Tax Reform Update
While all eyes in Washington are on a possible Senate vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in July, tax reform is being crafted largely behind the scenes. White House economic advisor Gary Cohn recently commented that the “gang of six”—Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady—are meeting regularly behind closed doors to complete a “unified” tax reform bill that could be made public as early as September. At a June 20 speech to the National Association of Manufacturers, Speaker Ryan insisted, “We are going to get this done in 2017!”
Outside these gang of six meetings, opportunities to provide official stakeholder input into the tax reform process are limited. Chairman Brady held two hearings this spring to solicit pro-growth tax reform ideas and to consider options for raising revenue through the tax reform process, and Chairman Hatch released a letter on June 16 asking for public comment on tax reform priorities.
To date, the legislative strategy for advancing tax reform has been premised on passage of an FY18 budget that includes budget reconciliation instructions and reflects cost savings from the repeal and replacement of the ACA. Reconciliation instructions enable Senate Republicans to pass tax reform legislation by a simple 51-vote majority and avoid having to reach the filibuster-proof 60-vote threshold. Regardless of the success or failure of the health care vote, however, Senate Republican leadership is likely to look to the budget process to unlock their ability to use reconciliation.
Advocacy in support of the historic tax credit (HTC) has significantly increased since the beginning of the year. Many advocates coordinated in-district meetings and site visits during the April and May recesses, and the HTC campaign team welcomed advocates to Washington in conjunction with the Institute for Professional and Executive Development Historic Tax Credit Conference on June 14. More than 40 HTC advocates participated in the fly-in, meeting with more than 80 congressional offices. The campaign team is now encouraging advocates to request in-district meetings and site tours during the upcoming July and August recesses.
The Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act (HTCIA), H.R. 1158/S. 425, remains a primary advocacy tool that provides members of Congress an opportunity to indicate their support for the HTC and offers several reform ideas that could be incorporated into a larger tax bill. Adding cosponsors to the legislation is a critical step to protecting the HTC during the tax reform process. Sponsored by Reps. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., in the House, the HTCIA continues to attract strong bipartisan support from 66 members—34 Republicans and 32 Democrats—including 12 members of the Ways and Means Committee. The Senate version of the bill, introduced by Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, has 12 cosponsors—eight Democrats and four Republicans.
Showing members of Congress rehabilitated historic buildings is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate the value of the HTC. Congress is in recess July 1–8 and July 31–September 4, which presents opportunities to meet with your congressional delegation. Contact your congressional representatives, and ask to speak with the scheduler to request in-district meetings.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Historic Tax Credit Coalition, Preservation Action, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and the National Main Street Center are circulating an HTC sign-on letter that calls on the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committee chairmen to protect the HTC in tax reform.
As mentioned, Senator Hatch is requesting stakeholder input about ways to reform the tax code. Businesses and organizations are encouraged to email letters to the Finance Committee by July 17. Please take this opportunity to weigh in and convey your support for the HTC.
Mark your calendars for the upcoming July 20 Webinar for an update on federal and state HTC campaigns. Be sure to reserve your slot on the free webinar hosted by the National Trust’s Government Relations department, and hear the latest about efforts to protect the HTC at the federal and state levels as well as tips on running effective advocacy campaigns for state HTCs.
Urge legislators to cosponsor the HTCIA. Together, we are building strong, bipartisan support for this invaluable legislation.
Historic Tax Credit Campaign Staff Contacts
Shaw Sprague is the senior director for Government Relations and Policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.#taxincentives #historictaxcredit #FederalHistoricTaxCredit #Advocacy