Days after multiple news organizations reported that the White House plans to release a three to five-page outline of a tax reform plan in September, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said he believes tax reform could happen “between now and Thanksgiving.”
According to Reuters, the framework for tax reform “would come from the ‘Big Six’ congressional and administration leaders on tax reform,” including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Cohn (who also heads up the National Economic Council), House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady, House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The impetus for tax reform appears to be growing. Brady refuted some earlier reports that questioned the level of support for tax reform, and a new report from Bloomberg says an overwhelming majority of economists surveyed expect tax reform to take place by November – November 2018, that is.
Commenting on the prospects for tax reform, Dustin Stamper, director of Grant Thornton’s Washington National Tax Office, says, “The legislative process has proven difficult for Republicans so far, but there is still a historic opportunity for tax reform in the next six months.”
He adds that with the failure to pass a health care bill earlier this year, “tax reform is now the top item on (Republicans’) agenda.”
What companies should do now
Although momentum for tax reform appears to be increasing, there is still uncertainty. What, if anything should companies and individuals do in terms of tax planning, given the current environment?
Stamper says that although we don’t yet know for certain whether tax reform will pass this year or how some proposals may evolve, “businesses cannot sit on the sidelines.
“There are many excellent planning opportunities that actually have to be implemented before tax reform is enacted,” says Stamper. “The prospect of a rate cut should prompt businesses to look for rate arbitrage opportunities by accelerating deductions and deferring income.”
Stamper will be speaking in-depth on “Tax Planning Under a New Tax Regime” at the Maryland Association of CPAs’ 48th annual Chesapeake Tax Conference, Sept. 25-26 in Baltimore (simulcast also available).
Conference co-chair Melanie Kletz, a tax partner in Grant Thornton’s Baltimore office, says the top three reasons to attend the Chesapeake Tax Conference include (1) current hot topics, (2) networking with your peers, and (3) fulfilling your continuing education requirements. Topics to be covered include:
“One developing topic that CPAs need to be aware of is the tax implication of remote and mobile employees,” added conference co-chair Jeremy Bendler, owner and president of Bendler Mason & Company in Bethesda. Eddie Adkins, a tax partner from Grant Thornton’s Washington National Tax Office, will explore the effects of remote office arrangements and the impacts on employees and employers. This topic was featured in the articles, “How to Avoid Regulatory Fire in the Gig Economy” and “Senate Bill Would Create Safe Harbor for Independent Contractors.”
Additional fall conferences focused on tax include the Don Farmer Tax Workshops, and the Advanced Tax Institute. Learn more about tax conferences and more in the MACPA’s upcoming events.