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White House Insists That Border Tax Stance Is Unchanged

Posted on May 11, 2017 by Luca Gattoni-Celli

The Trump administration has reaffirmed its willingness to consider a border-adjustable tax as a component of tax reform, rebutting a report that top officials oppose the provision.

“Our position on the BAT hasn’t changed,” a White House aide told Tax Analysts in a May 10 email, using a common acronym for the embattled provision. “We have concerns with the proposal which is why we didn’t include it in our [proposed tax reform] plan, but we are open to reviewing it if the House revises it.”

The administration’s statement counters comments reportedly made May 9 by Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah. According to Bloomberg BNA, Hatch said that National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin oppose the inclusion of a border-adjustable tax in a tax reform package.

The White House aide said that Mnuchin reiterated the administration’s stance on a border-adjustable tax during a May 9 meeting he had with Finance Committee Republicans to discuss tax reform.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady, R-Texas, has been working with his committee’s Republicans to modify the border-adjustable tax’s implementation as he tries to unite them behind the provision, which is integral to the House GOP “A Better Way” tax reform blueprint.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., has also touted the provision in the face of fierce opposition from some business interests, and has addressed the White House’s ambivalence toward it. On May 1 Mnuchin cast the border-adjustable tax as one of many possible revenue raisers for tax reform.

The Treasury Department declined to comment. Hatch’s office did not reply to a request for comment about the White House statement by press time.

Jonathan Curry contributed to this article.

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