JCT Hands Out Programs for the Tax Reform Debate

As work on tax reform gets going, the Joint Committee on Taxation has provided a 568-page report laying out just about everything you need to know about the tax code. The report, provided to the House Ways and Means Committee, lays out what the current tax code looks like and where reforms could head. Howard Gleckman of TaxVox aptly compares it to a program that is handed out at a baseball game, giving policymakers and observers the relevant statistics and stories for the tax reform debate.

The report first provides a brief and broad overview of the tax code. It then goes into great detail on the 11 topics that each of the working groups in the House and Ways Means Committee has been assigned, including: tax-exempt organizations; debt, equity, and capital; education and family benefits; energy; financial services; income and tax distribution; international taxation; manufacturing; pensions/retirement savings; real estate; and small businesses/pass-throughs. This section of the report lasts for about 430 pages, so clearly the Committee members will have plenty of material to work with.

The report then summarizes some of the major tax reform plans that have been proposed. They include the Simpson-Bowles, Domenici-Rivlin, 2005 President's Tax Panel, and Wyden-Coats plans, as well as many other proposals from think tanks and lawmakers. This section allows for a quick comparison of what the major plans have done on many different parameters of the tax code.

The final section of the report summarizes comments JCT has received on the 11 topics and on broader topics of tax reform.

Lawmakers will likely refer to this JCT report many times if tax reform seriously gets going in Congress. It provides an immense amount of useful background information for parts of the tax code in reform. The complexity of the code is further evidence that lawmakers should take a hard look at the many tax provisions, not only to improve our fiscal outlook but to make the code more efficient and boost economic growth.

Be sure to check out our corporate tax reform paper and calculator and our paper on how individual income tax reform can be done.