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Industry Groups, Retailers, Lawmakers Divided on Tax Reform

The U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 16 passed its tax reform bill, called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” sending the bill to the Senate for consideration, which is also deliberating its own tax reform bill, The New York Times reports.

As reports of the various elements of tax reform from both chambers have come out, individual industry trade groups and corporations have expressed either support or concern.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) takes issue with the House bill’s elimination of several deductions for homeowners.

“The [House] bill effectively renders mortgage interest and property tax deductions unusable for middle class home buyers and homeowners,” says NAHB chairman Granger MacDonald in a statement. “The House bill also severely diminishes the effectiveness of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which is essential to spur the production and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing. And the bill will make it far more difficult for small businesses to compete and thrive because it disproportionately benefits corporations.”

The NAHB released a separate statement regarding the Senate bill, which the organization says “fails to provide a meaningful incentive for homeownership for the middle class,” even though it retains the LIHTC and other credits for homeowners.

Following the passage of the House bill, the National Retail Federation praised the legislation as a move toward “more jobs, more competitiveness in the global economy, and more money in consumers’ pockets.”

The National Federation of Independent Businesses also came out in support of the House’s passage of its bill, saying it looks forward to working with Congress to present final legislation for President Donald Trump’s signature.

From a retailer viewpoint, Home Depot disagrees with the NAHB’s assessment that the House bill would negatively impact homeowners and would cause home prices to decrease, according to Bloomberg. The big-box retailer’s chief financial officer Carol Tome told Bloomberg that “there is no real empirical evidence that suggests mortgage-interest deductibility is at all correlated to home ownership.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) says he expects the full Senate to vote on the bill after Thanksgiving, The New York Times reports in another article. However, lawmakers haven’t publicly come to a consensus on either bill’s current form, echoing the challenges the GOP saw with health care reform.

Earlier this year, Republicans in Congress were unable to gather enough votes to pass a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The New York Times reports that the Senate tax bill includes a repeal of the individual mandate that requires all Americans to have health insurance, which has caused some members of the GOP to be skeptical of the tax bill. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of three dissenting votes in the effort to repeal Obamacare, says she has concerns about whether proposed tax cuts would cover any changes in health care costs for middle-income Americans that would result from repealing the mandate, according to the Times.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Finance Committee that advanced the Senate bill for full chamber consideration, says the tax bill is a “historic moment” that will “[bring] our outdated tax structure into the 21st century [and] will help level the playing field for businesses—both small and large—and ensure we can keep more jobs and more investment here at home,” reports CNBC.

About Melanie Moul

Melanie is the communications and content manager for the North American Hardware and Paint Association. She joined the NHPA team in 2016 as an editor for Hardware Retailing and now helps lead the communications team to deliver relevant, timely content to the industry.

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