Tax juggling on Capitol Hill
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
In surveying recent happenings on Capitol Hill, I'm reminded of the Flying Karamazov Brothers.
When I first saw these guys, which happened to be many years ago in Washington, D.C., they juggled a lot of disparate -- and sometimes dangerous -- items.
Juggling of a potentially treacherous nature definitely comes to mind nowadays when you look at all the tax proposals being tossed around in the nation's capital.
The White House has proposed a jobs plan and a deficit reduction/tax reform measure that call for a combination of payroll tax cuts, business tax credits and the provision that's been getting most of the attention, a higher income tax rates on millionaires.
The Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, aka the super committee, has gotten started on devising a federal deficit cutting plan by Nov. 23. Spending is the main target, but taxes also will be discussed, if not actually considered.
The House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees also have been busy with their own hearings on various tax-related topics, ranging from corporate taxes to individual tax rates on higher earners to what the tax code does to encourage retirement savings.
And the Speaker of the House has even gotten in on the act, calling for comprehensive reform to a tax code that "discourages investment and rewards special interests."
That's a lot of tax balls in the air. The K Brothers, who've been known on occasion to toss around a sharp object or two, would be proud.
Yet more tax legislation: But wait, there's more!
Although they're not getting a lot of attention, some other lawmakers are introducing additional tax legislation.
Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-Mich.) introduced H.R. 2889, the Save Social Security Act. This would establish a personal Social Security savings program with distributions from program accounts taxed as if they were Social Security benefits.
Rep. Stephen Lee Fincher (R-Tenn.) introduced H.R. 2892, the Invest in America Act of 2011. This measure would suspend the capital gains tax for 10 years for non-corporate taxpayers.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) introduced H.R. 2911, the American Jobs Act of 2011. This bill would repeal the corporate income tax and repeal the alternative minimum tax for corporations.
Some of the sponsors offer their bills in the hopes that even if the measures don't go anywhere, their pet tax provisions might be incorporated into some other piece of eventual legislation.
Others just want to be able to tell the voters they encounter on next year's campaign trail that they tried to get that special tax provision enacted.
Whatever the reason, as the debate on the president's proposals heats up and the Super Congress deadline nears, expect more tax bills to be dropped into the hopper.
Obviously there's a focus issue in D.C. And most lawmakers need to look up the word "simplify."
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