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Picture this: A 'perfecto' final tax bill

Jason Dick, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The House and Senate are not even in formal conference negotiations on a tax overhaul measure yet, but the expectation from the White House is clear: It's got to be "perfecto."

On a day of increasing uncertainty over how to fund the government past Dec. 8, President Donald Trump hosted a small group of Senate Republicans at the White House and placed his marker.

Americans will "be making so much money you are not going to know what to do with it," Trump said Tuesday, adding that "I think we're going to make it so that it comes out very beautifully."

After the Senate passed its measure on Saturday, 51-49, GOP leaders and the White House had a choice, Trump explained: put the Senate bill up for a vote on the House floor, or "put it into the conference and let's come out with something where everything is perfecto."

They chose "perfecto," he said as GOP senators, seated around a rectangular table in the Roosevelt Room, looked on.

But getting to perfecto is easier said than done, particularly when issues like the alternative minimum tax, pass-through companies, the individual mandate to purchase health insurance and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are added to the mix.

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At a minimum ...

For instance, repealing the AMT is a priority for House Republicans in conference negotiations with Senate tax writers, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said.

The Texas Republican said he has spoken to many House Republicans who "feel strongly" about permanently repealing the AMT for corporations and individual taxpayers. The House-passed tax bill would do so, while the Senate measure would keep the current corporate AMT and expand exemptions for the individual AMT rather than repeal it.

"Both of them are very costly and they add complexity," Brady said Tuesday. The individual alternative minimum tax particularly affects families in high-tax states and the corporate AMT "undermines some of the pro-growth provisions that we kept in the tax code," including the tax credit for research and development, he said.

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