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Tax Pros Think Corporate Tax Reform Is Coming Soon: Survey

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The latest tax reform business barometer, released Tuesday by the Tax Council and EY’s quantitative economics and statistics practice, finds that 61% of U.S. business tax professionals expect tax reform to happen in 2018 or earlier.

Thirty-one percent think it is most likely to occur in 2017.

Some 45% of tax executives and practitioners surveyed said reform would be comprehensive, 23% thought it would encompass all businesses, including both C corporations and pass-through businesses, and 17% said it would affect only C corporations.

Thirteen percent of respondents expected tax reform to be international only. With regard to interest in international-only reform, 21% said its enactment will increase the likelihood of enactment of a more comprehensive tax reform at a later date, while 51% believed it would hinder comprehensive reform.

Asked how likely it was that specific actions toward tax reform would take place in the House of Representatives, half of respondents said there was at least a 50% probability that the Ways and Means Committee chairman, Kevin Brady (R-Texas), would release a specific tax reform plan by the end of 2016.

Moreover, half of those surveyed thought it was at most 20% likely that the committee would mark up and 10% likely that it would report out of committee tax reform legislation this year. (Such legislation would then advance to a House vote.)

Half of respondents thought the likelihood that the House would pass tax reform legislation this year was disappearingly small.

Half of respondents saw at most a 10% probability that the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, would release a discussion draft or proposal to integrate individual and corporate income taxes to address the double tax on corporate earnings within the first quarter of 2016.

In addition, 74% of tax professionals thought it very or somewhat likely that such an integration discussion draft or proposal will change the tax treatment of interest.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 18, would make U.S. tax reform more likely. The law makes permanent several tax breaks, inlcuding allowing older taxpayers to make tax-free charitable donations from IRAs and several breaks for small businesses, including the research and development tax credit.

Twelve percent thought the PATH Act would make reform less likely, and 32% said it would have no effect.

In July 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development introduced an action plan to address base erosion and profit sharing, which refers to the global problem of gaps and mismatches in tax rules that can be exploited to shift profits to low- or no-tax locations.

Forty-three percent of tax professional in the poll thought that the OECD’s BEPS project would result in greater similarity of how countries tax the income of global companies, while 28% thought harmonization would decrease.

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