Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, vehemently disputed Monday reports that a provision to expand tax breaks for real-estate developers was added last minute into the Senate bill to win a key vote.
Over the weekend, reports surfaced that a provision was included into the last version of the bill that would benefit -- among other types of businesses -- real-estate developers like Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, who announced Friday he would support the latest version of the tax bill after voting against an earlier version.
One aspect of the finalized GOP tax bill benefits real estate developers
Sen. Bob Corker has denied this is why he flipped his vote to a yes
The International Business Times broke the news about the provision and how it would benefit someone like Corker.
But, Corker rejected that he'd flipped his vote because of the provision and said he wasn't even aware of how the bill structured taxes for real estate limited liability corporations when he announced his support Friday. Instead, he demanded Sunday night that Hatch provide the reasons the tax break was included and release them publicly.
Corker's main public opposition to the tax plan has been it's effect on the national debt and the budget deficit -- not the tax structure for LLCs such as real estate developers.
Monday morning, Hatch provided answers.
According to Hatch, Corker and his staff never contacted the Senate Finance Committee about including the provision. Hatch said that instead, the provision was merely a result of combining the House and Senate tax bills, which both structured taxes for pass-through entities like real estate LLCs differently.
"I am unaware of any attempt by you or your staff to contact anyone on the conference committee regarding this provision or any related policy matter," Hatch said. "To the contrary, virtually all the concerns you had raised in the past about the treatment of pass-through businesses in tax reform were to voice skepticism about the generosity of various proposals under consideration."
Hatch also wrote that the provision was simply not just a last minute add, but the result of a compromise between the House and the Senate bills.
"It takes a great deal of imagination -- and likely no small amount of partisanship -- to argue that a provision that has been public for over a month, debated on the floor of the House of Representatives, included in a House-passed bill, and identified by JCT as an issue requiring a compromise between conferees is somehow a covert and last-minute addition to the conference report," Hatch wrote.
Hatch also blasted the media's coverage in his letter.
"I am disgusted by press reports that have distorted one particular aspect of the conference agreement on H.R.1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," Hatch wrote. "The reports have focused on the final version of the 20 percent pass-through deduction, the proposed new Section 199A. As the author of this provision and the vice chairman of the conference committee, I can speak with authority about the process by which the conference committee reached its final position."
He added, "There are two false assertions contained in these reports, and I would like to correct the record on both."