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Archive for November, 2017

If the current state of tax reform were a football game, it would be the 1987 AFC Championship. The GOP would be the Cleveland Browns, driving to certain victory in a tied-up tilt with the Denver Broncos. The passage of the House bill leaves the GOP with 1st and goal from the 8, and all that’s left for the Senate to do is pound the ball into the end zone and start packing for the Super Bowl.

But if you think that advantaged position leaves a GOP triumph assured, I’d suggest you Google the name “Earnest Byner.”

Up to this point, nothing has slowed the tax reform train, largely because opponents have been given neither the opportunity nor the time to do so. With Republican control of the House, passage of the House bill was assured on a strict party-line basis. And even if some Republicans had unvoiced concerns, the process moved from publishing of proposed legislation (November 2nd) to mark-up by the House Ways and Means Committee (November 6th) to a full vote (November 16th) so quickly, that few had a chance to fully absorb the ramifications of the bill.

That pace, of course, was no accident. The House wanted to get the bill passed as quickly as possible; yes, in part to take a major step towards the legislative victory that has eluded the GOP since President Trump took over in January, but perhaps more importantly, because the sooner the bill was passed, the less likely that information would become available regarding the plan that would make it more difficult to justify voting for.

Things are different in the Senate, however. Republicans don’t enjoy the same comfortable majority that thy do in the House; in fact, Republicans currently control only 52 seats, and using the streamlined budget reconciliation process, 51 votes are needed to get a tax bill through the Senate. As a result, the GOP can afford only two defections (a 50-50 tie would lead to Vice President Pence voting the deciding “yea” vote), meaning if tax reform is going to fall apart, it was always going to fall apart in the Senate, rather than the House.

Perhaps more troubling for the Senate, however, has been the pace. A vote is not scheduled until next week at the earliest, and based on what most tax pundits have learned about the bill, time is its biggest enemy. Because with time, the many faults of the proposal become public, putting pressure on three Republican Senators to cast reform-killing “nay” votes.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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When it comes to tax reform, the political posturing may dominate the news — What’s in? What’s out? Who wins? Who loses? — but what really matters is the math. That’s certainly the case under the current climate, where unilateral control of the White House, House and Senate gives the GOP an opportunity to pass its vision of tax reform without a single vote from a Democrat in the Senate. If, that is, the Republicans can get the math to work.

Specifically, the 2018 budget reconciliation process will allow a tax bill to pass the Senate with a simply majority — rather than the standard 60 votes — only if that bill does not provide for more than $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next ten years. Go over that amount, and the GOP will need Democratic buy-in.

But big promises have been made. President Trump declared this THE BIGGEST TAX CUT IN HISTORY. (It is not). Individual rates are going to be slashed. So is the corporate rate. And the rate on business income. The estate tax and alternative minimum tax will be no more. You get the idea…lots of big tax cuts are coming, but how do you get that to fit into a $1.5 trillion-sized box?

You start by adding back as many deductions as politically palatable. But that’s the tricky part of tax reform; for every deep-rooted preference you try to extract from the law, a powerful special interest group will tug just as hard in an effort to keep it in place.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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What a week. Last Thursday, the House released its vision for tax reform, launching a flurry of analysis by the tax geeks, hand-wringing by the middle class, and defensive measures by the GOP.

Then, late last night, just as the House Ways and Means Committee culminated a four-day mark-up of HR 1 by voting to advance the bill along party lines, the Senate decided it was time to get in the mix by releasing its plan to revise the tax law.

There’s a lot to take in, clearly. It was hard enough to fully grasp how current law compared to the House bill, but now we’ve got to layer on the Senate proposal, which varies from both current policy and the House proposal in several significant ways.

What follows is a summary of the opening week of “tax reform season,’ with an item-by-item comparison of current law, the updated House proposal, and the newly-published Senate bill.

Let’s get to it…

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Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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Aspen, Colorado is known throughout the world for its idyllic landscape, world-class skiing, and hourly Mariah Carey sightings. It’s an amazing place to live, assuming, of course, you can afford it.

You see, the ol’ 81611 is one of the more expensive zip codes in America; if you want a piece of dirt within the city limits, it’s going to cost you well over seven digits. This is precisely why people like me are stuck living 15 miles away in a middle-class haven, content to rub elbows with the stars only as a visitor, never a neighbor.

Doing business in Aspen is no cheaper; rents are painfully high for commercial space. And when that’s the case, the best business to be in is usually that of a landlord. But being a landlord is hard work; you must constantly deal with late hours and annoying tenants.

But what if someone told you that as a landlord, you could pocket a lot more of your hard-earned money, if you’re only willing to make one concession: work less.

Well, that appears to be exactly what HR 1, the tax proposal released by House Republicans last week, is asking you to do.

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Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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Hey, you. Yes, you. Big corporation that just HAD to have a huge tax cut. Well, you got your way: of the $1.5 trillion in tax breaks in the House bill, nearly $1 trillion of it winds up right in your already-plump pockets.

But you might want to wipe that smug look off your face. Sure, the corporate rate will plummet from 35% to 20% if the bill becomes law, but the House’s proposal wasn’t ALL good news for big business. Like any tax bill, there was some give and take.
Let’s take a look:

Take: Borrowing Got More Expensive

Businesses borrow money; probably more than they should. What makes it palatable, however, is that a deduction is currently allowed for the interest expense, reducing the after-tax cost of borrowing.

The House bill would end that gravy train, however, by disallowing a businesses’ net interest expense (interest expense in excess of income) in excess of 30% of the company’s EBITDA. That’s right, you heard me…EBITDA is now factoring into tax calculations. Please give me more of that sweet, sweet simplicity.

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Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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Earlier today, the House of Representatives released its vision of tax reform, and there’s a lot to digest. Over 420 pages, in fact. Luckily, there has been no shortage of quality coverage of the bill around the interwebs, detailing the changes to tax rates and personal exemptions and the like.

But with 420 pages, some things are sure to slip through the cracks, and it is to these less publicized items that this column intends to draw attention.

Of course, there are both unexpected tax breaks and increases hidden within the bowls of the bill, but lest you forget, I’m generally a miserable person who prefers to dwell on the negative. As a result, let’s take a look at six tax breaks that you very likely didn’t realize you will lose if today’s bill becomes law.

#1: Divorce just got even more expensive

Under current law, alimony payments are deductible by the payor, and considered taxable income to the payee. And because you people are simply incapable of remaining faithful, there is a lot of alimony paid each year, about $10 billion to be exact.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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Today was the day. At long last, the first domino that may eventually leave to a thorough overhaul of our tax law was toppled by the House of Representatives with the release of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

For members of the tax-paying public, it can be tough to make sense of it all. When searching for someone to explain the potential changes in terms anyone can understand, options are scarce. Of course, you could simply wait around for the White House’s afternoon presser and listen to Sarah Huckabee Sanders correlate the corporate tax cuts with the exploits of “a man from Nantucket.”

Or, you could just keep reading here. Because what follows is a 30,000 foot view of the new bill, and I say that not because it’s a brief and top-level summary, but rather because I’m actually typing on a plane from Aspen to NYC.

Continue reading on, Forbes.com

Authored by Tony Nitti, Withum Partner and writer for Forbes.com.

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