- Republicans in the House and Senate passed their versions of the tax bill at breakneck speed.
- Experts are now finding errors and loopholes in those versions.
- Members of a conference committee have been tasked with solving these issues and writing a compromise bill.
As Republicans hurtle toward making their massive tax plan into law, experts are starting to find a slew of errors they say are most likely the result of a rushed process.
Republicans have argued that the plan is the culmination of years of work. But the resulting bill has moved through both chambers of Congress at legislative light speed.
The House passed its version of the bill, named the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, two weeks after rolling it out. The Senate got its version through in three weeks – including one off for Thanksgiving.
Given the breakneck speed and last-minute dealmaking – Senate Republicans were making handwritten changes to the bill hours before passing it – it’s no surprise that experts have discovered complications in the immediate aftermath of the legislation’s passage.
Perhaps the biggest is in the Senate bill, which at the last minute kept intact the corporate alternative minimum tax.
The change was so sudden that some experts say the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’ official scorekeeper, may have understated its potential effect.
Lily Batchelder, a tax-law professor at New York University who was formerly a deputy director of the National Economic Council, tweeted on Tuesday that any change to the corporate AMT would significantly affect revenue.
Batchelder said that repealing the corporate AMT could cause a revenue shortfall of an additional $300 billion. That would force Republicans to find more revenue in other places – through taking away deductions or increasing rates, for example – to fit their tax bill into a specific budget window.
That’s not the only error
Politico’s Brian Faler noted that the bill would impose a new tax on university endowments but does not define them. Universities with large financial holdings have multiple accounts to generate income, but unclear which of those would qualify for the new tax.
Experts also noticed issues with the bill’s treatment of pass-through businesses and with a one-time tax on foreign profits of multinational corporations after the legislation passed.
Republicans are now convening a conference committee – made up of members of both chambers, mostly from the tax-bill-writing House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees – to hash out differences in the versions of the bill and work out the errors.
From there, the House and Senate would vote on the compromise bill. It is unclear how quickly that would happen, but House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Wednesday that the GOP was aiming to have tax legislation on President Donald Trump’s desk by Christmas.