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Retirement Provisions Remain in Retooled Lame Duck Tax Package

After seeing their earlier proposal come under attack, House Republican leaders have revised their end-of-year tax and retirement savings legislative package, and carried forward key provisions from the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA).

Beyond that, the revised package seeks to address a number of open items that continue to be under discussion among lawmakers. Whether these changes will be enough to secure approval remains an open question, however.

Based on a preliminary review, the revised proposal retains the retirement savings package that was included in the draft legislation released Nov. 26 by House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX). That package of reforms drew heavily from the House-passed Family Savings Act and the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA).

The revised draft also retains the draft legislation's IRS administration reforms and technical corrections to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

529 Expansion

This latest proposal also includes an expansion of Section 529 savings accounts to allow qualified distributions for certain expenses associated with registered apprenticeship programs and certain homeschooling expenses. It also would help with paying off student debt and would extend designated beneficiary status to unborn children. (Under the latter provision, an unborn child would be defined as a “child in utero.”)

What’s Changed?

The revised legislation also eliminates provisions that would have extended a number of expired tax provisions, known as “tax extenders,” and certain start-up business tax incentives. It would also expand the areas that would qualify for disaster tax relief and delay implementation of three taxes: the so-called Obamacare "Cadillac tax" for one year, the medical device tax for five years, and the Health Insurance Tax for two years.

The latest revisions were made after House Republican leaders were forced to delay a Nov. 30 vote after realizing they lacked the votes to pass it because many of their members had already left Washington for the weekend and others had raised concerns that various provisions were not included.

While the revised legislation signals that negotiations are not yet dead, the measure still faces steep resistance from congressional Democrats who have shown no appetite for supporting the broader tax and retirement reform package, preferring to wait for their party to take control of the House next year.