02 June 2017

ACR News 6.2.17 – To-Do List Runs Long While Time Grows Short

>> Federal: Washington Roundup
>> Federal: President’s Budget
>> Federal: Private Foundation Excise Tax Simplification Act
>> Federal: Overhauling the IRS
>> Federal: Roadmap for Action in June
>> Consider This: Tackling the Covfefe on Capitol Hill
>> Top ReadsAs a Slimmed-Down Tax Plan Grows More Likely, Nonprofits Shudder

Washington Roundup

The Senate and House of Representatives left Washington for the Memorial Day recess on Friday, May 26, and will return on Monday. Prior to leaving town, lawmakers on the relevant committees had their plates full with tax reform. On Tuesday, May 23, the Ways and Means Committee held a second tax reform hearing, this time on the controversial border adjustment tax. Individual provisions, such as the charitable deduction, were not raised.

President’s Budget 

Also on Tuesday, May 23, President Donald Trump released his fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget proposal. The FY18 budget proposal, A New Foundation for American Greatness, represents the President’s spending priorities for FY18, which begins on October 1, 2017. It did not include any new tax reform proposals other than the principles President Trump released in April. After the release, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said President Trump prioritizes reforming the broken tax code. Though he made no commitments, he added that “Ways and Means Republicans look forward to working with the President and his team on these important priorities.”

Following the release of President Trump’s budget proposal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified in the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, May 24 and in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, May 25. Secretary Mnuchin pledged to work with Senator John Thune (R-SD) on ways to encourage charitable giving and discuss ideas for individuals who use the standard deduction.

Mnuchin emphasized the need for tax cuts and said his top priority is to create sustainable economic growth through tax reform and regulatory relief. He also urged the House Ways and Means committee to pass increased debt limit legislation before August recess. Read more in Consider This

Private Foundation Excise Tax Simplification Act

As you may recall, Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced the Private Foundation Excise Tax Simplification Act last month, which streamlines the PF excise tax to a flat one percent. The legislation now has seven cosponsors in addition to the leads, six of which are Ways and Means Republicans. ACR staff is continuing our efforts to add more cosponsors to the legislation.

Overhauling the IRS 

On May 19, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said at a hearing in front of the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee that the IRS will need to be reformed hand-in-hand with the tax code. It has been almost 20 years since the last overhaul of the agency, and both Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) have indicated they want to redesign the agency in tax reform.

You may recall the IRS panel at the ACR Summit for Leaders during which panelists discussed the concerns and opportunities a new IRS, proposed in the House tax reform blueprint, could pose for the charitable sector. As we learn more from lawmakers about how they plan to reform the agency, we will provide input to ensure the charitable sector isn’t forgotten.

Roadmap for Action in June  

At the ACR Summit for Leaders in March, we presented a Roadmap for Action – a 12-month plan to engage with lawmakers and your community. We then hosted a webinar in April for those who may have missed the Summit. This month’s action item is to join a tele-town hall with your Congressman if they offer them. You can find all the resources you need here. Additionally, you can sign up for town hall alerts at townhallproject.com.

We also want to share in your successes! May’s action item was set up a meeting with your Congressman in the district. If you have a photo that was taken during your visit and you would like to share it with us, please email it to sbarba@urbanswirski.com. Some examples of how to share on social media can be found here.

Consider This – To-Do List Runs Long While Time Grows Short

The House and Senate don’t have a lot of days left in the year when they are here in DC – about 75 days for the House and 95 for the Senate.

And they’ve got a boatload of “must do” and/or “really want to do” items looming. Despite pressure from the House and the Administration, health care is stalled in the Senate, with Senate Leader McConnell signaling that he just doesn’t have the votes for an ambitious overhaul on Obamacare. And tax reform is taking on water with signals that the financing mechanisms in the House hitting third rails with some members. Not encouraging signs, but the work on both continues.

Just last week both Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and OMB Director Mulvaney gave Congress some not-so-welcome news – taxes are coming into the Treasury at a slower-than-expected pace.  What that means is that the Administration is anxious to deal with the debt ceiling before Congress takes its months long August recess. On the domestic side of policy, convincing your colleagues to deal with the possibility that they might have to vote to raise the debt ceiling is probably the toughest task of all.  Add to that the need to figure out how to fund the government past September 30 and the need to do another budget resolution (at least in the Senate) before they can pass tax reform, and collective heads start to spin with the difficulty of getting it all done.

Despite the work that has to be done, the agenda on the Hill has been agonizingly slow during the first 130 days of this Congress. Other than the considerable feat of getting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, there is not much to show for the first half of the year – and it’s unclear if that pace will pick up, given all of the distractions Congress is facing with this new Administration.

There’s frustration all-around among rank and file Republicans in Washington. Whether or not the leaders in Congress and in the Administration can break through all the fog and noise and get a legislative agenda moving, remains to be seen. As the President might say in a tweet, there’s a whole lot of covfefe going on. 🙂

Top Reads

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