Congress passes tax reform

By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a second time on Wednesday, by a vote of 224–201, after procedural objections were raised about the version of the bill the House passed Tuesday afternoon. The bill will now go to President Donald Trump for his signature. The president is expected to sign the bill, but the White House has not announced when he will sign.

The revote was necessary because the Senate version of the bill differed from the House version after there was an objection that the bill the House had passed on Tuesday violated the Senate’s so-called Byrd rule, named for former Sen. Robert Byrd, which prohibits the Senate from passing legislation using the budget reconciliation rules if the legislation contains extraneous provisions.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled that the bill as first passed by the House violated these rules by including an expansion of Sec. 529 accounts that would have allowed distributions to be used for home-schooling expenses (Section 11032 of the bill) and the removal of an exception to the endowment excise tax for colleges with fewer than 500 tuition-paying students (Section 13701 of the bill). The parliamentarian also struck the bill’s short title. A Senate vote to waive the Byrd rule and keep those provisions in the bill failed on a vote of 51–48; it needed 60 votes to pass.  

The House originally passed its version of the bill on Nov. 16. The Senate passed a different version on Dec. 2. The two versions were reconciled in a conference committee made of members of both houses of Congress, which released a revised bill on Dec. 15. 

For more details of what is in the bill, see “What the Tax Reform Bill Means for Individuals,” and “How Tax Overhaul Would Change Business Taxes.”

— Sally P. Schreiber (Sally.Schreiber@aicpa-cima.com) is a Tax Adviser senior editor.

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