Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) recently distributed a “Dear Colleague” letter outlining a “blank slate” approach to tax reform. This method approaches tax reform with the assumption that all special provisions will be eliminated unless there is clear evidence that they (1) help grow the economy, (2) make the tax code fairer, or (3) effectively promote other important policy objectives. While Baucus and Hatch mention that they are in agreement that some of the existing tax expenditures serve an important public purpose, the Senators are looking to clear out the unproductive provisions and simplify the code.
This means that the Senate Finance Committee, in using the “blank slate” framework, is approaching tax reform with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit eliminated from the tax code. It will only be added back in if enough Senators make a compelling case for it.
In the letter, Senators Baucus and Hatch ask their Senator colleagues to weigh in on provisions within the tax code that should be retained or added. All Senators, not just members of the Finance Committee, have been asked to submit legislative language or detailed proposals for which tax expenditures meet these tests and should be included in a reformed tax code, as well as other provisions that should be added, repealed or reformed as part of tax reform. Proposals must be submitted by Friday, July 26.
NH&RA encourages its members to reach out to your Senators as soon as possible to make a compelling case for why the housing credit should remain in the tax code. NH&RA is here to help with this effort. Our advocacy archive has several useful resources and tips for communicating with Congress about the housing credit or you are welcome to contact Caitlin Geary at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 939-1778 for additional guidance.