The Federal Tax Reform Panel has postponed both of its public meetings, one scheduled for September 8 and another on September 15, partly to allow the Treasury Department to focus on tax relief measures for victims of hurricane Katrina. Former Senator John Breaux (R-Louisiana), vice chairman of the tax reform panel, is now focusing all of his attention on helping hurricane victims in his home state, says Tara Bradshaw, the tax reform panel's spokeswoman. The Treasury Department has been helping the tax reform panel "run the estimates of all different types of plans and options, such as estimates for the cost of eliminating the AMT, but Treasury is now focused on getting out taxpayer guidance" to help those affected by Katrina, Bradshaw says.
In a prepared statement, the tax panel said there is "mutual agreement among the Chair [former Florida Senator Connie Mack], Vice-Chair, Panel members, Treasury Department and the White House to postpone our two upcoming meetings." The tax panel members are holding ongoing discussions about when the meetings will be rescheduled, and it looks as though the panel will have to push back its September 30 deadline. "We are discussing a new time to release the report," Bradshaw says. President Bush had asked the tax reform panel to submit a report to Treasury Secretary John Snow detailing ways to overhaul the tax code by the end of this month, but the panel needs to hold the meetings "before it can finish the report," she says.