NUMBER OF THE WEEK: $1.1 Trillion
This is the amount the government would save over the next 10 years if policymakers eliminated the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes — the largest of all of the 26 deficit reduction options listed in last week’s annual Congressional Budget Office report, entitled “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2015 to 2024.” The deduction enjoys widespread support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
New Members Named to Ways and Means. The House Ways and Means Committee will add four new Republicans to its roster in 2015, replacing three retiring members, including current Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), and picking up one additional seat due to Republican gains in the midterm elections earlier this month.
The committee announced on Friday that Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Kristi Noem (R-SD), George Holding (R-NC) and Jason Smith (R-MO) will join the prestigious committee next year, while Democrats will likely lose a seat, meaning there will be no replacement for retiring Rep. Allyson Schwartz in the next Congress.
Ryan Picks Top Ways and Means Staffers . Soon-to-be Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) officially announced who will fill key staff roles in the House Ways and Means Committee Majority Office next year. His longtime aide and chief-of-staff in his personal office, Joyce Meyer, will be staff director, while his current staff director on the House Budget Committee, Austin Smythe, will serve as the Ways and Means policy director. Brendan Buck, a former spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), will return to the Hill as the communications director for the committee, leaving his current post with America’s Health Insurance Plans.
Extenders Negotiations Swirling in Political Fallout . Whatever hope there was for progress on an extenders deal took a huge hit last week (along with any other politically sensitive talks) after President Obama announced his administration’s unilateral plans for changes to immigration policy. The Republican backlash at the president’s move was the equivalent of throwing a stink bomb into a room many already didn’t want to be in. House Republicans are now growing louder in their calls for a one-year retroactive extension of all of the expired tax breaks — something Senate Democrats and even some House Republicans, like Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), have called unacceptable.
Stack: Seen and Heard. The U.S. Treasury Department’s deputy assistant secretary for international tax affairs, Robert Stack, is a frequent flier on policy discussion panels these days — a fitting reflection of the growing regulatory activity of (and concomitant interest in) international taxation of U.S. multinational firms. On one panel last week, Stack told the audience that Treasury Department officials are scrutinizing U.S. tax treaties to determine if they are contributing to the growing numbers of corporate inversions, according to a Bloomberg BNA report on the event.
On Nov. 20, speaking at an event hosted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and the World Bank, Stack said the U.S. is resisting pressure from other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development-member countries to utilize a subjective set of transfer pricing rules in its base erosion profit shifting (BEPS) project. The PWC/World Bank event coincided with the release of Paying Taxes 2015, an annual report surveying taxes across 189 jurisdictions.
OECD Asks for Feedback from Asset Managers . In other international tax news, the OECD is asking asset managers for input on its newly updated discussion draft for preventing tax treaty abuse. Specifically, the OECD wants feedback on how limitation-of-benefits rules, governing entitlement to tax treaty benefits, should be applied to collective investment vehicles, which include mutual funds and pension funds. Comments on the Nov. 21 draft are due by Jan. 9. The OECD will hold a public consultation in Paris Jan. 22. The discussion draft is available for review here.
COURTS & LEISURE
Credit Suisse Ordered to Pay $1.8 Billion in Tax Conspiracy Case. Credit Suisse reached an agreement in U.S. federal court on Nov. 21 to pay $1.8 billion to federal authorities, pleading guilty to conspiracy charges for its role in helping Americans hide money and assets from the Internal Revenue Service through 2009. Read more here.
While Congress may be out this week, expect a busy 2015 on Capitol Hill. The House and Senate last week released their calendars for the coming year. Click here to view the House calendar, and click here to view when the Senate is in session.
In the meantime, enjoy this brief respite from tax policy and have a Happy Thanksgiving! Congress will return to Capitol Hill on Monday, Dec. 1.