DC Tax Flash: House Taxwriters Spotlight Differing Priorities on Virus Relief

Tax Alert

The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing today on "Consequences of Inaction on COVID Tax Legislation," where lawmakers and witnesses all agreed Congress needs to do more to address the coronavirus outbreak, but disagreed on the size and scope of any potential package.

Today's hearing in the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures was chaired by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), who lamented the delay in getting another relief bill to the president. "It is painfully clear that millions continue to struggle, and the hole they are in is getting deeper." He noted his support for the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act, which passed the House on a partisan vote in May. "For four months, the Senate has done nothing to help these families," the chairman said.

Republicans, led by Ranking Member Adrian Smith (R-NE), urged action on more targeted measures and blamed Democrats for the delay. "House Democrat leaders have stalled each relief package Congress has passed," he said.

"[Y]esterday, we saw Senate Democrats block a smart, targeted relief package that would have given our children, small businesses, and health care workers the help and certainty they need," Rep. Smith observed. He acknowledged that any relief package that makes it to the president's desk must be bipartisan, but he expressed disappointment that congressional Democrats have not come back to the negotiating table.

The following lists the witnesses who testified and links to the testimony of each:

The opening statement of Chairman Thompson is posted here. The opening statement of Ranking Member Smith is posted here.

In other action from the Ways and Means Committee, Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) yesterday said he would seek to include a set of technical corrections to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in a temporary government funding bill that is expected to be considered later this month. And just today, Rep. Brady introduced legislation that would forgive payroll taxes deferred pursuant to the president's directive allowing employers to defer these taxes in the final quarter of 2020. The bill would also refund the individual portion of these taxes withheld by employers that do not participate in the deferral.

More information on Rep. Brady's bill, which is estimated to reduce federal revenue by $173 billion, is posted here.

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