Senate Plan Would Cut Corporate-Tax Rate to 20% Starting in 2019

By Siobhan Hughes, Richard Rubin and Kristina Peterson Features Dow Jones Newswires

The Senate has devised a tax plan that would cut the corporate-tax rate to 20% starting in 2019, according to two Senate Republican aides and multiple GOP senators, one year later than proposed by the House and later than the Trump administration had hoped.

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The plan also include a full repeal of deductions for state and local taxes and sticks with seven tax brackets -- compared with the four brackets proposed by the House -- according to Republican senators leaving a closed-door briefing. The top tax rate would be 38.5% and would apply to individuals making $500,000 a year or households making $1 million, according to Sen. John Hoeven (R., N.D.)

The details are starting to trickle out as the Republican effort to pass a $1.5 trillion tax cut and deliver President Donald Trump his first major legislative win entered a critical period. The House and the Senate are operating on parallel tracks to clear legislation over a series of hurdles.

GOP senators said Thursday that they expected the corporate tax rate cut to be delayed by one year, but that could change depending on how the official estimates of the bill's cost come in.

"It may be delayed one year, but immediate expensing is included up front, which is a huge deal," Sen. Mike Rounds (R., S.D.) told reporters of the corporate tax rate cut.

Passage of legislation through the House Ways and Means Committee, followed by the unveiling of a Senate alternative, will move the debate beyond fights between the GOP and Democrats and into an arena marked by differences between Republicans in each chamber.

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Senate Republicans were set to release a plan that diverges from the House version, which cuts individual- and corporate-tax rates and repeals the estate tax.

High-income households would get the biggest boost under the House plan, with the top 1% garnering 20.6% of the cut next year and almost half in 2027, according to the Tax Policy Center.

The cuts would be paid for in part by the elimination of various household deductions.

Senate Republicans were leaning toward preserving medical-expense deduction and the estate tax, which the House plan eliminates, and toward striking the deduction for property taxes, which the House plan cuts to $10,000 annually. Senate Republicans may eliminate the property tax deduction altogether along with other state and local tax deductions.

"You go down the path of trying to repeal the entire state and local tax in the Senate, then that is just not going to work," said Rep. Tom Reed (R., N.Y.), who fought to preserve the property-tax deduction in the House plan, in a preview of the intraparty battles.

The House picks up where it left off Wednesday, facing the problem of how to fill a $74 billion hole in the budget -- and beyond that, the emerging hesitation of more Republicans.

As of late morning on Thursday, Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas), the committee chairman, hadn't said what will be in an amendment to address the gap and other issues, when he will produce it or how much time Democrats will get to examine it. He did say, again, the committee would finish its work today.

A Wall Street Journal tally has identified at least nine House Republicans who are either against the House GOP plan or undecided. House Republicans can lose only 22 GOP votes during a floor vote planned for next week if they are to pass the legislation given that no Democrats are expected to support it.

On the Senate side, Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee huddled behind closed doors to learn details of what was in the tax legislation. The broader Senate Republican conference was to briefed at 11:30 a.m.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R., Texas) told reporters the Senate tax bill would likely come up for a floor vote the week after Thanksgiving.

Write to Siobhan Hughes at siobhan.hughes@wsj.com, Richard Rubin at richard.rubin@wsj.com and Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 09, 2017 14:03 ET (19:03 GMT)