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Friday, September 6, 2013

Senator submissions for the "blank slate" tax reform project - Introduction

On June 27, 2013, Senators Baucus and Hatch of the Senate Finance Committee called upon their colleagues to provide suggestions for which special tax rules should remain in or be added to a reformed federal tax system. Comments on this "blank slate" approach were to be submitted by July 26, 2013. To help encourage participation, it was later announced that there would be no linking of any proposal to any senator until 50 years later (The Hill, "Tax writers promise 50 years of secrecy for senators' suggestions," 7/24/13). Of course, senators could release their letters to the public on their own. Several senators have done so. But, with the promised secrecy, we likely won't know how many senators provided letters with justifications for provisions to be retained.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has a list with links to the submissions they are aware of - "Opening the Tax Reform Vault."

What do the submissions suggest?  More incentives? Specific ones to repeal?

I'm going to take a look at a few in this and future blog posts to get a sense of what members of the Senate Finance Committee might learn from the letters released publicly by Senators.  I'll aim to use a common format to help with comparisons and understandings. I will consider if key principles of good tax policy were considered, note any specific preferences suggested for repeal or addition, and provide an overall assessment. 

I hope you'll comment on both the Senator's letter and my overall analysis of each.

Stay tuned!  (In no particular order, I'll start with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) - in the next post.)

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