Wall Street Journal
December 13, 2012

Sen. Baucus Committed to ‘Comprehensive Tax Reform’

In comments that could cheer supporters of a big tax overhaul, the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee said he still supports “comprehensive tax reform” next year. And Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) said he hopes to set up an expedited process for a tax rewrite through the year-end fiscal cliff deal.

Next year’s tax overhaul would be aimed at lowering rates for both individuals and corporations, and would not increase revenues, in Mr. Baucus’s view. But it depends on Congress approving higher taxes on the wealthy as part of a fiscal cliff deal in the next few weeks.

“I am committed to accomplishing comprehensive tax reform and have begun to lay the groundwork for a plan that includes individual as well as corporate reform,” Mr. Baucus said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. “We have a major opportunity here to rebuild the tax code for the 21st century. My hope is that an expedited process for tax reform is put in place by year-end legislation and that we lock in more revenue from high-income households now as part of a deficit-reduction deal.”

More revenue likely would be needed in part to offset the cost of lowering rates.

Mr. Baucus’s comments appear to be aimed at rekindling hope for a big tax overhaul next year, after a week where prospects diminished.

Republicans, who control the House, also want a comprehensive rewrite of the tax code that includes lowering both individual and corporate rates. But many Democrats including President Barack Obama want to raise individual rates now and are not necessarily committed to lowering them later.

The tax picture is further complicated by feuding between small-business groups and big businesses. Small businesses want lower individual rates and are allied more with Republicans on this issue. Big businesses want lower corporate rates and are drawing more sympathy from Democrats.

Mr. Baucus’s counterpart in the House, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.), said in a statement this week that “Republicans remain committed to finding a balanced solution to the fiscal cliff–one that involves both savings from substantive entitlement reforms and higher revenues through pro-growth, comprehensive tax reform.”