Senator Submissions For The “Blank Slate” Tax Reform Project – Introduction

TaxConnection Blogger Annette Nellen posts about the "blank slate" tax reformOn June 27, 2013, Senators Hatch and Baucus of the Senate Finance Committee called upon their colleagues to provide suggestions for which special tax rules should remain in or be added to a reformed federal tax system. Comments on this “blank slate” approach were to be submitted by July 26, 2013. To help encourage participation, it was later announced that there would be no linking of any proposal to any senator until 50 years later (The Hill, “Tax writers promise 50 years of secrecy for senators’ suggestions,” 7/24/13). Of course, senators could release their letters to the public on their own. Several senators have done so. But, with the promised secrecy, we likely won’t know how many senators provided letters with justifications for provisions to be retained.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has a list with links to the submissions they are aware of – “Opening the Tax Reform Vault.”

What do the submissions suggest? More incentives? Specific ones to repeal?

I’m going to take a look at a few in this and future blog posts to get a sense of what members of the Senate Finance Committee might learn from the letters released publicly by Senators. I’ll aim to use a common format to help with comparisons and understandings. I will consider if key principles of good tax policy were considered, note any specific preferences suggested for repeal or addition, and provide an overall assessment.

I hope you’ll comment on both the Senator’s letter and my overall analysis of each.  Stay tuned! (In no particular order, I’ll start with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – in the next post.)

Annette Nellen, CPA, Esq., is a professor in and director of San Jose State University’s graduate tax program (MST), teaching courses in tax research, accounting methods, property transactions, state taxation, employment tax, ethics, tax policy, tax reform, and high technology tax issues.

Annette is the immediate past chair of the AICPA Individual Taxation Technical Resource Panel and a current member of the Executive Committee of the Tax Section of the California Bar. Annette is a regular contributor to the AICPA Tax Insider and Corporate Taxation Insider e-newsletters. She is the author of BNA Portfolio #533, Amortization of Intangibles.

Annette has testified before the House Ways & Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee, California Assembly Revenue & Taxation Committee, and tax reform commissions and committees on various aspects of federal and state tax reform.

Prior to joining SJSU, Annette was with Ernst & Young and the IRS.

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