Most of us believe that comprehensive tax reform for 2015 is already dead despite Ways and Means Chairman Ryan’s (R-WI) oft-repeated statements to the contrary. But perhaps new life may be breathed into executive compensation reforms. On the heels of a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing dealing with tax fairness, the committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (OR) and the Democratic Committee Staff have released a summary report entitled How Tax Pros Make the Code Less Fair and Efficient: Several Tax Strategies and Solutions.
The report, largely prepared by the JCT staff, goes on to describe a number of executive compensation and investment “techniques” that are used by taxpayers and their accounting and investment professionals in the areas of financial derivatives and nonqualified deferred compensation (“NQDC”). While the bulk of the report arguably adds little to the ongoing debates surrounding these two areas of interest other than noting the loss of tax revenues in the billions over the next decade, the report is interesting insofar as it highlights what could be growing Congressional interest in further legislation seeking to curb perceived abuses/unfairness.
In the area of NQDC, the report broadly endorses a number of proposals offered by other lawmakers (including one by former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Camp) including:
- Further restricting the rules dealing with vesting of deferred income and the timing of income recognition;
- Potential dollar limits/caps on deferred compensation; and
- Closing perceived loopholes in the application of the Section 162(m) deduction limitation.
While the report appears to have received little press since its release, we will continue to monitor reactions and responses to it among other lawmakers and within the Obama Administration as summer approaches.