The Senate is in recess for the Thanksgiving holiday. When it reconvenes on November 27, it is expected to immediately take up its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which was approved by the Senate Finance Committee on November 16th by a vote of 14-12. The Arc strongly opposes this bill because, like the House bill, it would reduce revenue by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, thereby increasing pressure to cut Medicaid and other programs that benefit people with disabilities, and it provides tax cuts that are heavily skewed toward high income earners and large corporations. However, the Senate bill is even more harmful than the House bill because it would effectively eliminate the health insurance individual mandate currently required by the Affordable Care Act. This repeal would lead to a reduction in the number of people with health coverage by 13 million and increase average health insurance premiums in the individual market by about 10 percent. If the Senate passes the bill quickly, it is possible that the House could immediately follow and pass the Senate version, getting the measure to the President’s desk by the end of the month. Alternatively, the House and Senate could engage in negotiations to compromise over the differences between their two bills; then the negotiated bill would be voted on by both the House and Senate. The goal is final passage before the Christmas recess. Take Action over the Thanksgiving Day recess to stop this harmful and unpopular bill!
The full House is expected to vote on its bill Wednesday or Thursday of this week. The Senate Finance Committee begins mark-up on its bill today.
On November 7, Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Danny K. Davis (D-IL) introduced the Public Funds for Public Schools Act of 2017 (H.R. 4269). This bill addresses a problem that currently exists with tuition tax credits (TTCs) in select states. In 18 states, the TTCs are available to individuals who contribute to scholarship granting organizations or school voucher nonprofits. In 7 of these states (AL, AZ, FL, GA, MT, NV, and SC,) this tax credit is dollar for dollar. This means that in addition to receiving a full refund from their state, upper-income donors qualify for a federal tax deduction on the same donation, which allows them to turn a profit on their contributions. Each year, wealthy donors use TTCs to divert an estimated $1 billion in taxpayer funding to private and often unaccountable schools. The Arc supports this legislation as it disallows profiteering from donations to support private schools, which are not obligated to adhere to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The Senate Finance Committee released a description of its tax bill shortly after the House Ways and Means Committee approved its own bill on November 9. While The Arc is pleased to see that the Senate bill does not repeal the medical expense deduction that assists approximately 9 million Americans with high medical expenses to meet their needs, The Arc opposes the bill. The measure would substantially reduce revenue, paving the way for huge cuts in the programs people with disabilities rely on, and disproportionately benefits upper income earner and corporations. Click here to see a comparison between the House and Senate tax bills. See our shared principles for tax reform.
On November 9, the House Ways and Means Committee voted along partisan lines to advance H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Arc opposes this bill because it would reduce revenue by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, thereby increasing pressure to cut Medicaid and other programs. In addition, The Arc opposes the measure’s disproportionate benefit to wealthy individuals and corporations and its repeal of expenditures that benefit people with disabilities – the medical and dental expense deduction, the work opportunity tax credit, and the disabled access tax credit. The bill also modifies Section 529 education savings accounts to cover elementary and high school expenses of up to $10,000 per year and removes income limits. Such a change would allow for wealthy individuals to receive a tax benefit for sending their child to private schools, which are not required to accept or provide a free and appropriate education to students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (read more here). Click here for a section-by-section summary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and click here to read the statement from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Fiscal Policy Task Force on the bill’s advancement.
The Ways and Means Committee begins its markup of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act today. The Arc opposes this bill as it does not meet our shared principles for tax reform. The Arc is also concerned that Congress may add repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that people purchase health insurance when the bill is considered by the committee.
On November 3, the House Ways and Means Committee released its tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1). While the bill does not include cuts to Medicaid or other federal programs, The Arc opposes this bill due to the $1.5 trillion over 10 years that the bill would add to the deficit, thereby increasing pressure to cut Medicaid and other programs in the future. In addition, The Arc opposes the measure’s disproportionate benefit to wealthy individuals and corporations and it’s repeal of expenditures that benefit people with disabilities – the medical and dental expense deduction, the work opportunity tax credit, and the disabled access tax credit. The bill also modifies Section 529 education savings accounts to cover elementary and high school expenses of up to $10,000 per year and removes income limits. Such a change would allow for wealthy individuals to receive a tax benefit for sending their child to private schools, which are not required to accept or provide a free and appropriate education to student with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (read more here). Click here for a section-by-section summary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and click here to read the statement from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) on the bill.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) announced that the Committee would release a draft of its tax bill on November 1. Markup of the legislation is scheduled to begin on November 6. Despite the announcement, there reportedly continues to be disagreement among Members of Congress on tax expenditures (credits, deductions, exclusions, and deferrals) that should be eliminated or reduced in order to offset the cost of cutting tax rates. The Arc will review the legislation to ensure that it is consistent with our shared principles for tax reform which include not cutting essential federal programs to help pay for tax cuts that primarily benefit wealthy individuals and corporations. See The Arc’s blog for more information.
Recently, Colorado, Indiana, and New York opened qualified ABLE programs, bringing the total number of jurisdictions with ABLE programs to 29.
Colorado and Indiana’s ABLE programs are open to all eligible individuals nation-wide. They have six investment options and a checking option with a debit card. The accounts have a quarterly fee of $15, which is reduced by $3.75 for individuals who elected to receive their statements electronically. Additionally, they have asset-based fees ranging from 0.34% to 0.38% depending on the investment options chosen.
New York‘s ABLE Program is currently only open to state residents. It has four investment options and a checking account with a debit card. Accounts have a quarterly fee of $11.25 for account-holders who receive electronic statements and $13.75 for account-holders who receive paper statements. Additionally, there is a 0.4% asset-based fee on investment options.
More information about state implementation of the ABLE Act can be found here. General information about ABLE programs can be found in the National Policy Matters: ABLE Accounts for People with Disabilities here.
The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) has declared August as #ABLEtoSave month. During this month, the center will be raising awareness and providing resources relating to ABLE programs. Additionally, they are hosting a series of webinars:
- Week 1 (July 30 – August 5): Basic Overview of ABLE
- Week 2 (August 6 -12): Eligibility
- Wednesday August 9, from 2:00 – 3:00 EDT
- Week 3 (August 13 – 19): Qualified Disability Expenses
- Week 4 (August 20 – 26): Financial Literacy
- Week 5 (August 27 – September 2): Enrollment