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House approves tax reform bill

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] approved HR 1 [text, PDF], a bill which will overhaul the US tax code, by a vote of 227-205 [NYT report] on Thursday.

The bill proposes a $1.5 trillion dollar tax cut for business and individuals throughout the country.

The legislation currently proposes a cut in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. This would be a permanent drop in the tax rate with no set expiration date. Additionally, companies would also be allowed to deduct the cost of new machinery and equipment for five years and will also incentivize bring assets currently being stored in low-tax countries back to the US. If companies agree to return these assets to the US, they would be taxed at a rate of 12 percent.

Most notably, the corporate system would not transitional from a worldwide system to a territorial system, meaning that, rather than tax corporations for their income from all over the world, companies would now be taxed predominantly only for the income they make within the US. If the bill becomes law, this will be the largest single cut [WSJ report] to the business tax rate in American history.

The bill also aims to eliminate [Chicago Tribune report] the estate tax [IRS backgrounder] by 2024. The estate tax is a tax applied at the time of an individuals death and currently only applies to estates that have a fair market value over $4.49 million. Under the current tax codes, these estates would be taxed at a rate of 40 percent.

A controversial component of the bill is the repeal and revision of higher education tax benefits. According to an analysis [text] by Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation, the bill will cost students and their families over $71 billion over the next decade. Many graduate students who currently receive tuition waivers in exchange for working or doing research for their institution will have to pay a tax on those waivers. Under the current tax code, these waivers are not taxable.

The bill will now go to the Senate for a vote before President Donald Trump has to opportunity to sign the bill into law.

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