New Congress Begins Work on Tax Reform

Comprehensive tax reform is a top priority for the 115th Congress and incoming Administration.  The House has already begun its work to develop tax reform legislation based on the A Better Way tax blueprint that House leadership released last year, and may even release a draft in the coming weeks.  In order to reduce top corporate tax rates from 35 to 20 percent, as called for in the blueprint, the blueprint indicates that the majority of corporate tax expenditures would be eliminated, with only one - the research and development credit - expressly retained and several explicitly targeted for repeal. The draft was silent on the Housing Credit as well as on multifamily Housing Bonds, which account for more than 40 percent of Housing Credit production annually.

In December, Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee held a meeting to discuss specifics for translating the blueprint into legislation. During the meeting key Republicans on the committee voiced support for preserving the Housing Credit in tax reform. While this suggests that the Housing Credit remains in a strong position as the committee works to translate its tax reform proposal into legislation, it is important that ACTION remain vigilant in its advocacy efforts. Moreover, Housing Bonds and the 4 percent Housing Credit remain particularly vulnerable. The Ways and Means Committee is currently resolving outstanding issues related to tax reform through a working group process and is aiming to release a discussion draft in the coming weeks, followed by a period for public comment before holding a mark-up.

Prior to the December meeting, the ACTION Campaign sent a letter to Congress with 2,000 signatories urging the prioritization of the Housing Credit and Housing Bonds in tax reform. The ACTION Campaign also grew its campaign membership from 1,300 to roughly 1,800 organizations through this sign-on effort, demonstrating strong support for the Housing Credit as a result of robust mobilization efforts by ACTION members.

The Senate has not released any comprehensive tax reform proposals, but Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) were original co-sponsors of legislation to expand the Housing Credit in the 114th Congress, and have both expressed their continued support for the program.

We encourage all ACTION Campaign members to reach out to your members of Congress and encourage them to protect, strengthen and expand the Housing Credit and Housing Bonds as they consider tax reform legislation. Visit our advocacy toolkit for a new sample letter and talking points for the 115th Congress to help make your case.

Several new members have also joined the committees that oversee tax legislation. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who signed onto both S. 2962 and S. 3237, has joined the Senate Finance Committee, along with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

The House Ways and Means Committee welcomes six new members: Representatives Dave Schweikert (R-AZ-5), Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2) and Carlos Curbelos (R-FL-26) in the Majority, and Brian Higgins (D-NY-26), Terri Sewell (D-AL-7) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1) in the Minority.

We urge ACTION members represented by any of these new committee members to reach out to your Senator or Representative and emphasize the importance of protecting, expanding and strengthening the Housing Credit and Housing Bonds in the 115th Congress.