House Republicans Pass GOP Tax Reform Bill, Senate Vote Upcoming

Last week, our tax law blog examined the progress of the GOP tax reform bill H.R. 1, better known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which would make sweeping changes to the existing Tax Code if enacted into law. After the House Ways and Means Committee voted 24-16 in favor of the bill, which was introduced by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), H.R. 1 proceeded to the full House, where it passed with a 227-205 vote on Thursday, November 16. Meanwhile, the Senate continues to refine its own tax reform bill, which on several points diverges sharply from the House’s version. The Senate tax bill is expected to head to the Senate floor after the Thanksgiving holiday, at a time to be determined. Until then, California tax attorneys – and taxpayers nationwide – can only guess at the fate of the GOP’s latest tax reform initiative.

How is the House Tax Reform Bill Different from the Senate Version?

Republicans in both chambers of Congress hope to achieve sweeping tax overhaul via comprehensive tax reform bills currently circulating in the House and Senate. But while both bills share the same general goal – simplifying the Tax Code while lightening the tax burden on individuals and businesses – they take different approaches to achieving this objective.

While it’s difficult to predict which version will ultimately have greater success in Washington, both proposals would dramatically alter the Tax Code as it applies to millions of individuals and businesses, impacting tax brackets, the standard deduction, the Estate Tax, corporate tax rates, the health insurance individual mandate, eligibility for various credits and deductions, and other crucial issues. Summarized below are just a few examples of several key differences between the House and Senate tax packages in their current forms.

  • Corporate Tax Rate – The current corporate tax rate is 35%. While both versions of the bill dramatically reduce the existing rate from 35% to 20%, the House bill would see these changes take effect in fiscal year 2018, whereas no change would take effect until 2019 under the Senate bill.
  • Deductions for Pass-Through Businesses – Under current law, income from “pass-through” business entities, which include partnerships, S corporations, and sole proprietorships, is taxed only at the individual level, avoiding the double taxation faced by C corporations. The Senate bill would allow pass-through entities to deduct up to 17.4% of certain income known as “domestic qualified business income.” By comparison, the House bill establishes a 25% pass-through rate.
  • Maximum Individual Rates – Currently, the top individual income tax rate is 39.6%. The House bill would preserve the current rate as-is, while the Senate bill would lower the rate from 39.6% to 38.5%.
  • Mortgage Interest Deductions – The U.S. Tax Code presently allows married couples to deduct interest on mortgages up to a limit of $1 million. The House bill lowers the threshold from $1 million to $500,000, while the Senate bill leaves the current deduction untouched.
  • Property Tax Deductions – With some exceptions for business entities, local and state tax deductions would be eliminated in both versions of the tax reform bill. However, unlike the Senate version, the House version allows local property tax deductions up to a limit of $10,000.
  • Tax Brackets – There are currently seven tax brackets: (1) 10%, (2) 15%, (3) 25%, (4) 28%, (5) 33%, (6) 35%, and (7) 39.6%. The Senate bill leaves the existing bracket structure divided into seven levels, while the House bill condenses seven brackets into four: (1) 12%, (2) 25%, (3) 35%, and (4) 39.6%.

The GOP’s current legislative goal is to develop a final version of a tax reform bill before the end of 2017. With just over a month left in the year, time is short and stakes are high, ensuring a busy six weeks for members of Congress.

“The tax reform debate is moving forward faster than we or most other observers expected,” wrote Goldman Sachs political economist Alec Phillips, who was quoted in Business Insider. “While there are a number of issues that could still slow it down, or stop it altogether, we believe the odds that tax reform will be enacted by early 2018 — already our base case — have risen to 80% (from 65% previously).”

For our earlier analysis of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, click here. We’ll continue to post updates on the evolving legislation as the GOP tax reform effort advances.

Los Angeles, CA Attorney-CPAs Providing Tax Services for Individuals and Businesses

Tax reform serves two core functions: (1) stimulating the economy by easing the tax burden on individuals and business owners, and (2) simplifying the regulations established by an increasingly labyrinthine Tax Code. If the GOP is successful, taxpayers will require step-by-step guidance to incorporate the new laws into their financial and tax planning strategies – and if it is not, taxpayers will have little choice but to continue contending with the Tax Code in its current form, at least until the next reform effort.

If you are among the millions of taxpayers who struggle to navigate the complicated Tax Code each year, we encourage you to contact the Tax Law Office of David W. Klasing for a reduced-rate consultation on the tax planning services our Los Angeles tax attorneys offer, including tax preparation services, estate planning services, and accounting services. Based in Orange County, CA, our offices are conveniently located to assist taxpayers throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area, while our international tax attorneys provide meticulous guidance and aggressive representation for expatriates, citizens abroad, and owners of foreign financial accounts.

To learn more about how our knowledgeable San Bernardino tax attorneys can assist you with general tax return preparation, an IRS tax audit, unfiled tax returns, or other tax-related matters, contact us online by clicking the link above, or simply call our law offices at (800) 681-1295.

Also, we’ve expanded our offices! In addition to our offices in Irvine and Los Angeles, the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing now have offices in San BernardinoSanta BarbaraPanorama City, and Oxnard! You can find information on all of our offices here.