Hoyer Offers Preview Of Dem Strategy In House Tax Debate

House Minority Whip Hoyer charged Tuesday that Republican tax
cuts enacted over the last four years have added layers of
complexity to the tax code, offering a preview of the Democratic
message as House members debate tax policy this week and next.

   But seven points that Hoyer outlined as a pathway to
simplification of the tax code showed little contrast with
Republican proposals to simplify the tax system that will be on
display next week.

   Hoyer and other Democrats will take to the House floor
tonight to highlight their tax simplification agenda.

   While acknowledging that Democrats have little chance of
shaping legislation this year, Hoyer told reporters Tuesday that
he is working to make tax reform a top political priority for
Democrats. "This needs to be a major issue for our caucus," said
Hoyer.

   In a speech to the Urban Institute's Tax Policy Center, Hoyer
called for simpler tax filing procedures for small businesses
and eliminating confusion for low-income families by
establishing a uniform definition of a child. Republicans are
weighing a proposal to create an EZ form for businesses under a
certain income threshold, and also have included the uniform
child definition in their legislation.

   Hoyer called for overhaul of the alternative minimum tax --
echoing widespread bipartisan sentiment that Congress needs to
guard against the AMT's bite into the incomes of middle-income
taxpayers.

   In perhaps the most striking difference with Republican calls
for simplification, Hoyer backed a proposal by Sen. John Kerry
of Massachusetts, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee,
to overhaul the international tax system by eliminating deferral
for many types of overseas income.

   He also said Congress should examine ways to relieve a large
percentage of Americans of the need to file tax returns at all.

   Hoyer called for more enforcement against cheating on the
corporate and individual level, and said the House should hold
more hearings on tax simplification issues.

   He charged that the reduction of tax rates on dividends and
capital gains had created a "nightmare" for tax filers, and said
the corporate tax bill that passed the House last month would
further complicate the tax code.

   A House Ways and Means Committee spokeswoman said that in
those cases, the benefits of tax relief took precedence over tax
simplification objectives. "Our goal is to provide tax relief,
first and foremost," she said.

   Democrats who are expected to come to the floor tonight to
discuss tax issues include a host of Ways and Means members
including Reps. John Tanner of Tennessee, Jim McDermott of
Washington, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio, and several
members gunning for a Ways and Means slot in the next Congress,
including Reps. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, Shelley Berkley of
Nevada and Joseph Crowley of New York.