Guide to Republican Tax Proposal

November 3, 2017

House Republicans announced a tax proposal Thursday that would cut the U.S. corporate tax rate to 20 percent, reduce most of the individual tax brackets, and cap the mortgage-interest deduction on new purchases of homes.

The measure would phase out the estate tax over five years and impose a tax of as much as 12 percent on multinational companies’ accumulated offshore earnings. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady may revise the bill over the weekend before his committee starts considering it on Monday. The Senate aims to propose its own bill as early as next week.

Here’s a guide to some of the House measure’s major provisions:

Individual Taxes

The rates would be consolidated from seven to four, while setting a $24,000 standard deduction and keeping the current top bracket of 39.6 percent. The personal exemption would be repealed, and the tax thresholds would be increased annually according to a rule called chained CPI.

Chained CPI is a formula that would subject more income to higher tax rates than under the regular consumer price index.

Here are the initial brackets for married taxpayers filing jointly: 12 percent: $24,000 to $90,000 25 percent: $90,000 to $260,000 35 percent: $260,000 to $1 million 39.6 percent: $1 million and up.

The top tax rate for pass-through businesses would be reduced to 25 percent from the current 39.6 percent, while limiting the kinds of income that would qualify.

Among those who wouldn’t automatically qualify are lawyers, accountants, consultants, engineers, financial services workers, and performance artists. Qualified pass-through business owners can choose to count 70 percent of their income as wages — subject to their individual tax rate — and 30 percent as business income, taxable at the 25 percent rate. Or, they can set the ratio of their wage income to business income based on their capital investment.

The alternative-minimum tax would be repealed, along with the overall limit on itemized deductions.

The home-mortgage interest deduction would be reduced for new purchases to $500,000 from the current $1 million.

Deductions would be repealed for medical expenses, tax preparation expenses, moving expenses, and most personal casualty losses, unless the casualty loss is related to special disaster-relief legislation.

The estate tax would be repealed after 2023. Before then, the amount excluded from the tax would be doubled for individuals from the current $5.49 million.

The top gift tax rate would be cut to 35 percent from 40 percent.

The deduction for state and local income taxes would be repealed, while the deduction for state and local property taxes would be capped at $10,000.

The child tax credit would be increased to $1,600 from $1,000 for each child under age 17, plus another $300 for each parent as part of a family tax credit.

Corporate Taxes

The corporate tax rate would be cut to a flat 20 percent from the current maximum of 35 percent.

Businesses could immediately expense the cost of new investments instead of depreciating over a matter of years. The immediate expensing would end in January 2023.

The proposed rules would prevent companies from deducting interest expenses that exceed 30 percent of a measure of their income.

Multinational companies’ accumulated offshore earnings would be taxed as high as 12 percent.

The exemption for executive pay linked to results would be eliminated, denying companies the option to write off large equity awards.

Other Provisions

Large private university endowment income would be taxed at 1.4 percent. That measure would apply to schools with assets of more than $100,000 per student.

The sale of municipal bonds for professional sports stadiums and privately run infrastructure projects such as toll roads and airports, would be eliminated.

A tax credit that drug and biotechnology companies can claim for 50 percent of the costs of clinical testing expenses for treatments for rare diseases and conditions would be eliminated.

Churches would be allowed to endorse political candidates and take stands on political issues without risking their tax-exempt status, as long as the speech “is in the ordinary course of the organization’s business” and expenses are minimal, according to a summary of the tax measure.

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