Action on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has slowed this week with the announcement that the House would not be voting on a revised tax bill this week as had originally been planned. Instead, a House-Senate conference meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 13. It is expected to be a relatively brief meeting allowing the Conference Committee Members to make short statements while the actual negotiations continue in private. According to press reports, the major areas of disagreement are: the alternative minimum tax, pass-through business income, the corporate tax rate, the child tax credit, deductions for state and local taxes (referred to as SALT deductions), and individual tax brackets. The Conference Committee must also resolve the differences in the major provisions that are problematic for people with disabilities.
Advocates have more time to reach out to Members of Congress to oppose this harmful legislation. The Arc’s network is urged to participate in today’s National Call Day on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that The Arc is cosponsoring and to continue advocating throughout the week. See action alert above.
The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on moving forward with a conference committee today to iron out the differences between the tax bills that both chambers passed. The House passed its bill on November 16 and the Senate narrowly passed (51 to 49) its bill in the early morning hours of December 2. Both bills, named the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, make significant changes to the tax code for both individuals and corporations. Both would add about $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, increasing pressure to cut Medicaid and other programs to pay for the tax cuts that disproportionately benefit upper income individuals and large corporations. The Senate bill goes further by effectively repealing the individual mandate for people to have health insurance which is projected to result in 13 million fewer people with health care coverage and increase premiums by 10%. Click here to read a description of the major differences in the House and Senate bills and click here to see the differences in key provisions for people with disabilities. The Arc’s statement on the Senate’s passage of its tax bill can be found here.
Advocates are urged to turn their attention to their representatives in the House to oppose the bills TODAY. The House and Senate need to pass the identical bills in order for a measure to become law. It is still possible that the House may simply pass the version the Senate passed on Saturday morning. If this were to happen, the President is all but certain to sign the measure and it will become law. Therefore, the time to act is now. See action alert.
The House and Senate tax bills include a provision that allows the rollover of funds from a Qualified Tuition Program into a Qualified ABLE Program. Additionally, the Senate tax bill includes a provision that increases the annual contribution limit for ABLE accounts for beneficiaries who work by the amount they earn, up to the federal poverty level. The Arc does not support passage of any ABLE Act changes until the age of onset is substantially increased. Learn more about The Arc’s position on ABLE Act improvement here.
On November 16, the House of Representatives passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1). The final vote was 227 – 205, with no Democratic support and 13 Republicans in opposition. The Arc opposes this tax overhaul bill because 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. It also provides tax cuts that disproportionately benefit wealthy individuals and large corporations and repeals expenditures that benefit people with disabilities, including the medical expense deduction, the work opportunity tax credit, and the disabled access tax credit. Click here to read The Arc’s statement on the House’s passage of the bill.
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.