November 21,2013

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Sean Neary/Ryan Carey

Baucus Works to Overhaul Outdated Tax Code

Chairman Calls for Feedback on Proposal to Reform Cost Recovery and Tax Accounting Rules

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today unveiled the third package in a series of proposals to overhaul America’s tax code. The latest staff discussion draft focuses on reforms to cost recovery and tax accounting rules. 

“America today is using a bloated tax code that was built for businesses close to 30 years ago. The code is completely outdated and acting as a brake on economic growth.  More must be done to simplify tax rules, lessen the burden on small businesses and jumpstart job growth,” Senator Baucus said.  

The rules for cost recovery and accounting determine when a business can deduct the cost of investments and how they account for their income.  However, the rules are outdated, overly complex and reward specific industries to the detriment of others.  In addition, Congress keeps changing the rules. It is often difficult for businesses to plan for the future as a result of temporary, and sometimes retroactive, provisions.

To address these issues, the staff discussion draft proposes a modernized set of cost recovery and accounting rules that are simpler, fairer, and lessen tax burdens on small businesses.  These reforms would also raise enough revenue from corporations in the long-term to finance a significant reduction in the corporate tax rate.  Specifically, the discussion draft offers proposals to:

  • Replace current rules with a system that better approximates economic depreciation based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. 
  • Reduce the number of major depreciation rates from more than 40 to 5.
  • Eliminate the need for businesses to depreciate each of their assets separately.
  • Permanently increase Section 179 expensing to $1 million and expand the definition of qualifying expenses. 

Senator Baucus requested that the Congressional Budget Office produce a letter detailing their analysis of economic depreciation rates of tangible assets. 

Senator Baucus is looking for feedback from stakeholders and the American public on the discussion drafts as he continues his work to overhaul the tax code.  Feedback on the cost recovery and tax accounting rules discussion draft is requested by January 17, 2014 and comments can be sent to:

Earlier this week, Senator Baucus unveiled discussion drafts on international tax reform and tax administration.  All three discussion drafts are based on bipartisan ideas and incorporate bills introduced by both Republicans and Democrats.  They are intended to spur a conversation about areas where Republicans and Democrats may be able to reach agreement on fixing the broken tax code.  

An overview of the cost recovery and accounting discussion draft can be found here, and a one-pager on the draft can be found here

The full staff discussion draft in legislative language can be found here