9 Sticking Points The House And Senate Have To Work Out In Their Tax Bills
House and Senate Republicans have now passed two different versions of a sweeping tax overhaul. Their next step is to iron out differences between the two bills, so the final product can be sent to the president to be signed into law.
Both the House and Senate bills call for deep cuts in the corporate tax rate — from 35 to 20 percent. In the House version, that cut would take effect next year. In the Senate version, the lower rate would begin a year later. The two bills differ in a number of other ways, including their treatment of individual taxes and so-called "pass-through" businesses that are taxed at the individual rate of their owners.
Here are some areas to watch as lawmakers work to harmonize the two versions and produce a single bill:
1. Individual taxes
Both versions offer a larger standard deduction while eliminating personal exemptions. But the individual tax cuts in the Senate bill expire after 2025, while those in the House version are permanent.
2. Pass-through businesses
3. Child tax credit
Both versions would make the credit available to more middle- and upper-income families. But those on the lower rungs of the income ladder might not see any benefit, because the "refundable" portion of the tax credit — which helps those who pay little or no income tax — is unchanged.
4. Mortgage-interest deduction
5. Alternative-Minimum Tax
The Alternative-Minimum Tax, or AMT, is designed to ensure that highly paid workers with a lot of deductions still pay at least a minimum amount of tax.
(For a deeper explainer of the AMT, here's the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.)
6. Estate tax
This is a tax on wealthy individuals' estates when they die. Currently, it applies to those whose estates are valued at $5.49 million.
Only about 0.2 percent of estates ever face this tax.
8. Graduate students
9. Corporate tax
Both the House and Senate bills cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent — which the White House had identified as a key goal. After the Senate vote, though, President Trump suggested there may be some wiggle room.
"It could be 22 [percent] when it comes out, but it could also be 20," Trump told reporters on Saturday. "We'll see what ultimately comes out."
A somewhat smaller cut in the corporate tax rate could give lawmakers breathing room to make other adjustments, while still staying within Senate rules that say the bill can add no more than $1.5 trillion in federal debt over the next decade.
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