Tax Reform Signed in time for the Holidays

by Denise A. Bode & Anne C. Canfield


The first overhaul of the tax code in thirty years passed the US House of Representatives a second time after being modified and was approved by the US Senate this last week. This occurred as a result of Senate Democrats identifying several provisions that the Parliamentarian said violated the “Byrd rule.” If that wasn’t enough, the conference report was also found to violate the “PAYGO” rule. For a while, it was thought that the President would need to sign the bill after the first of the year in order not to trigger cuts in mandatory spending programs like Medicaid. As described below, a waiver was added to the stopgap spending measures that enabled the President to sign the bill on December 22nd before he left for Florida.

Congress also passed a stop-gap spending bill this past week, averting a partial government shutdown, at midnight Friday, but pushing into January final decisions on spending, immigration, health care and national security. Among the issues still to be resolved is federal aid for victims of recent hurricanes and wildfires. The House passed a separate $81 billion disaster relief bill, but the Senate did not immediately take it up amid Democratic objections.

The stopgap extends federal funding through January 19 and provides temporary extensions of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has languished politically since it expired in October; a Veterans health-care program; and a warrantless surveillance program set to expire January 1. The stopgap spending measure passed the House 231 to 188 and cleared the Senate 66 to 32. These votes are the last in 2017. The votes came after House GOP leaders scrambled Wednesday and Thursday to gather votes to keep the government open.

Another controversial provision was also added to the House stopgap: a measure waiving mandatory cuts to entitlement programs forced by the passage of the tax bill. Without the waiver, the President was going to have to wait until 2018 to sign the tax bill. In the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a fierce advocate for lower federal spending, accused his fellow Republicans of reneging on calls to cut spending and forced a separate vote on the waiver. The waiver passed 91 to 8, averting the mandatory cuts. This made it possible for the President to sign the tax reform legislation on December 22, 2017.

Just in case you missed it, here are a few key items:

1. The links to the bill and the summary are below.

2. Property taxes can be prepaid, but not income taxes

  • The final Conference Report prevents state income taxes from being prepaid. However, property taxes can be prepaid. Some municipal jurisdictions have announced that they are “open for business” and have put extra personnel on board to accept pre-paid property taxes.

















            CO2 Emissions Down Across the States



            The United States has a diverse energy landscape that is reflected in differences in state-level emissions profiles. Between 2005 and 2015, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions decreased in 43 states (including the District of Columbia) and increased in 8 states. On a per capita basis, energy-related CO2 emissions decreased in 49 states (including the District of Columbia) and increased in 2 states (Louisiana and Nebraska) between 2005 and 2015. EIA’s analysis measures emissions released at the location where fossil fuels are consumed. When fuels are used in one state to generate electricity that is consumed in another state, for example, emissions are attributed to the state where the generation occurs.

            Energy-related CO2 emissions are the result of coal, petroleum, and natural gas consumed within a state to produce electricity (36% of U.S. total), to transport goods or people (35%), to operate industrial processes (18%), or to directly fuel equipment in residential and commercial buildings (11%). The consumption levels by fuel and by sector vary considerably by state. For example, in 2015 coal consumption accounted for 75% of energy-related CO2 emissions in West Virginia, although, in California, coal only accounted for 1% of emissions.  LINK TO EIA:



            Michael Best Strategies’ Energy Team

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