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Tax reform is job 1

Actually, tax reform will be H.R. 1.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has reserved that numerical designation for rewriting the tax code, according to The Hill newspaper's On the Money blog.

Boehner has dibs on the first 10 bill numbers for the 113th Congress, but H.R. 1 generally is reserved for a signature legislative issue by the party that controls the House.

HR 1 information from Library of Congress Thomas service

"Reforming our tax code to get our economy going again and create jobs is a top priority for House Republicans,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told blogger Bernie Becker.

Talking tax reform: It seems that tax reform, or at least talking about it, is pretty popular this year.

President Obama, in his State of the Union address, cited tax code reform as a prime way to boost the economy and solve federal budget concerns.

"Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit," Obama said in his Feb. 12 speech to the Congress and nation. "The American people deserve a tax code that helps small businesses spend less time filling out complicated forms and more time expanding and hiring; a tax code that ensures billionaires with high-powered accountants can't pay a lower rate than their hard-working secretaries; a tax code that lowers incentives to move jobs overseas and lowers tax rates for businesses and manufacturers that create jobs right here in America."

Then came soon-to-be Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who during confirmation hearings told Senators that revamping the tax code would be "at the very top" of his to-do list.

Collecting tax reform data: As for the language that will appear in H.R. 1, Boehner reportedly has given House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) "license to move forward" on tax reform.

To that end, Camp, working in conjunction with the tax-writing committee's minority leader Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) -- yes! a bipartisan effort, at least at this beginning stage -- has announced the formation of 11 separate Ways and Means Committee Tax Reform Working Groups.

Each of the 11 groups will be led by one Republican member as chair and one Democratic member as vice chair. They are, in alphabetical order:

  1. Charitable and Exempt Organizations, led by David Reicher (R-Wash.) and John Lewis (D-Ga.)
  2. Debt, Equity and Capital, led by Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.)
  3. Education and Family Benefits, led by Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.)
  4. Energy, led by Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.)
  5. Financial Services, led by Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) and John Larson (D-Conn.)
  6. Income and Tax Distribution, led by Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.)
  7. International, led by Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)
  8. Manufacturing, led by Jim Gerlach (R-Penn.) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.)
  9. Pensions and Retirement, led by Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Ron Kind (D-Wisc.)
  10. Real Estate, led by Sam Johnson (R-Texas) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.)
  11. Small Business and Pass Throughs, led by Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.)

Each group is charged with reviewing current law in its designated issue area and then identifying, researching and compiling feedback. That feedback will come from stakeholders, academics and think tanks, practitioners, the general public and colleagues in the House of Representatives.

Note the general public component. There's no mention of specific ways the groups will get input, but you should feel free to volunteer your thoughts to the Representatives.

Once the groups finish their work, the information will go to the Joint Committee on Taxation, which will prepare a report for the full Committee. That report is due by -- wait for it -- April 15, 2013.

Next baby steps: Then what? What are the chances that the official first bill of this Congress will in fact go anywhere?

Many Capitol Hill watchers put the odds at 50-50; not dead, but not a sure thing.

OK, that's kind of a wussy way out of taking sides, but it is our current Congress we're talking about.

John Feehery, president of Quinn 
Gillespie Communications in Washington, D.C., and a former 
House Republican leadership staffer, puts tax reform in tastier terms that I, a Texas barbecue devotee, appreciate:

"A friend of mine who works on tax issues for a living said that cooking tax reform is kind of like cooking barbecue. You can have hot, medium or mild reform — hot being fundamental, comprehensive reform with rate simplification and base broadening, medium being focused solely on corporate tax reform and mild being focused solely on tax simplification."

The final recipe might not appeal to all diners, but we're all at the same tax reform table and we are hungry for something!

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Dear tax writers,
just adopt the Fair Tax Reform as studied and itroduced in the house.A sales tax of 27% with the elimination of all the taxes.The sales tax would be on new items and a supplement for the food items for people bellow the poverty line.A flat tax that simple.Unlish the soverign individual in "PERSUIT OF LIFE,
LIBERTY AND HAPPINESS".As invisiond in our Foundig Documents.
And let the spirit and the letter of our original constitution
play its ispired music of equal opportunity and justice for all.

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