December is upon us and you know what that means. The impending end of the year is when languishing legislation finally begins to move.
But one thing isn't going anywhere: fundamental tax reform.
Rewriting, and presumably simplifying, our tax laws is the political Holy Grail.
The last big revamp was the 1986 Tax Reform Act, or as it was always called when I worked in Washington, the "Historic" Tax Reform Act. The addition of that adjective indicates just how rare it is to accomplish any reworking of the Internal Revenue Code.
But the quest continues.
Presidential tax panel problems: Dubya tried to make a mark on the code. He did succeed in getting some changes enacted, but those were mainly tax cuts and only temporary. They're set to expire at the end of next year.
But Bush 43 had less success with comprehensive, long-term tax reform.
Dubya appointed a blue-ribbon panel to come up with tax overhaul suggestions. They did. The prez shelved them.
Now it's Obama's turn.
He created the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB), part of which was to issue a report on tax reform today, Dec. 4. We've just been informed that the tax task force report will be delayed indefinitely.
PERAB Chair Paul Volcker, the serious guy beside Obama in that photo to the right, says the report will be released "after the holidays."
Now this delay doesn't necessarily mean that nothing will come of the tax task force's work. In fact, the White House and Volcker are quick to point out that the extra time is necessary so that the group can give due consideration to the hundreds of submitted reform ideas.
"We still have the same specific mandate: to discuss the pros and cons of a spectrum of reform ideas relating to tax simplification, enforcement of existing tax laws and reform the corporate tax system without considering policies that would raise taxes on families making less than $250,000," said Volcker in announcing the delay.
I wish PERAB all the best. But the cynic realist in me suspects that the group's findings will probably meet the same sad fate as did those of its predecessor.Related posts:
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