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NAED Government Affairs: What To Watch For in 2014

The second session of the 113th Congress has begun and it promises all the gridlock of 2013 with a heaping side dish of election year partisanship. However, letting our guard down and expecting nothing to happen is the surest way for us to be unpleasantly surprised in 2014.

Here’s what we’ll be watching in 2014:

Both the House Ways & Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee have circulated drafts of tax reform proposals that call for LIFO repeal. That’s bad. In the recent past we’ve been able to count on House Republicans to strenuously oppose LIFO changes. The fact that they’re now characterizing LIFO repeal as “inevitable” means we need to get busy disabusing them of that notion.

The only good news to come from this tax reform discussion is that the gridlock mentioned above means a comprehensive rewrite of the federal tax code remains a long shot in 2014. If you look at the few bipartisan pieces of legislation that work their way to the president’s desk these days – they tend to be non-controversial. An election year isn’t the time when both sides come together and sing Kumbayah. It’s when they are more likely to go for the other side’s jugular.

Also, the top tax writer in the Senate, Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, is rumored to be the administration’s choice for the next ambassador to China. If Baucus leaves Finance, the new chair, probably Oregon’s Ron Wyden, is not likely to jump in to a tax code overall on their first day on the job.

We’ll also stay focused on the Marketplace Fairness Act, which strives for fairness in online sales tax collection. This bill passed the Senate last year but is stalled in the House. It’s going to be tough to get much done in this election year – but Marketplace Fairness has a shot. This is a bipartisan bill. And they have to do SOMETHING.

I’ve heard from a few of our members asking about the Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction, popularly known in our industry as EPACT, which expired at the end of 2013. Congress failed to pass what they commonly refer to as an “extenders package” where a number of expiring tax provisions are extended. That doesn’t mean that the deduction is gone forever. There’s plenty of talk that Congress may consider an extenders package in the first half of 2014. There were more than 50 other tax provisions that expired along with EPACT. And if Wyden takes over the Finance Committee, we couldn’t have a better ally in the Senate.

There’s plenty of work to be done in 2014. One of the best things you can do in 2014 is work to elect pro-business candidates in November. Elections have consequences and right now we’re reaping the consequences of the 2008 and 2012 elections with higher taxes on job creators and an emboldened and aggressively expanding regulatory state.

 

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