Tax-writers in Congress, namely Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), spent much of 2013 pushing for action on comprehensive tax reform. Although the year came to a close without either Baucus or Camp introducing reform legislation, a significant amount of work took place both on-the-record and behind-the-scenes in creating a roadmap for reform for all of 2014 and perhaps even into 2015.
Most recently, Chairman Baucus has released three staff â€œdiscussion draftsâ€ (with a forth draft expected later this month) on issues such as cost recovery and tax accounting rules, international tax reform, and tax administration, and public comments are due to the Committee by January 17th. Moving forward, tax reform discussion in the Senate will no doubt significantly change as President Obama has tapped Chairman Baucus to be the next ambassador to China. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), presently the third ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, is expected to take Baucus' gavel. It is worth nothing that Senator Wyden is a strong supporter of the charitable deduction. In 2011, for example, Senator Wyden released his own comprehensive tax reform bill which preserved the current-law charitable deduction, and more recently he co-authored a Dear Colleague letter urging the Senate Finance Committee to protect the full value and scope of the deduction.
In the House, Chairman Camp has not followed as formal or inclusive of a process as in the Senate, but he is believed to have a comprehensive reform bill mostly written and is in agreement with Senator Baucus (but perhaps not Senator Wyden) on many key issues of reform. Chairman Camp has also signaled both publicly and privately that he intends to advance legislation in early 2014, but it remains to be seen if the Republican leadership in the House asks him to postpone these plans in favor of other legislation, especially since 2014 is an election year.