Pension & Benefits News Tax extenders, retirement savings bills’ fate remains uncertain
Monday, October 14, 2019

Tax extenders, retirement savings bills’ fate remains uncertain

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

The fate of over 30 temporary tax provisions known as “tax extenders” and a sweeping retirement savings bill remains uncertain as Congress heads toward a two-week recess. Lawmakers are expected to return to Washington, DC on October 15, 2019.

Stopgap spending bill. The Senate on September 26 passed a House-approved stopgap spending bill by an 82-to-15 vote that will keep the government open, including Treasury and the IRS, through November 21. The President is expected to sign the measure, according to a senior White House official.

While the short-term funding bill does contain certain heath care-related extenders, the bulk of expired or soon to be expired tax breaks are expected to be addressed in November during the next round of lawmaker negotiations. Although tax extenders have traditionally been a bipartisan issue, given the current political climate, it is unlikely that a stand-alone tax extenders bill could successfully make its way through the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-majority Senate before the end of the year. Thus, it is anticipated on Capitol Hill that any tax extenders package that may soon surface will likely hitch a ride on a larger legislative vehicle like a year-end government funding bill.

Retirement savings bill remains stalled in Senate. Meanwhile, the House-approved bipartisan Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Bill of 2019 (H.R. 1994) remains stalled in the Senate. The bill cleared the House on May 23 by a 417-to-3 vote.

The bipartisan retirement package, which proposes sweeping tax-related changes to retirement savings policy was originally expected to quickly clear the Senate after its approval in the House. However, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) blocked the bill from reaching the Senate floor in protest of House Democrats’ removal of a provision from the original bill, which would have expanded tax-advantaged Section 529 education savings plans to include homeschooling and certain elementary and secondary expenses.

Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly tried to bring the bill to the Senate floor on September 26, Cruz continued to hold up the bill along with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). However, there is speculation on Capitol Hill that as a result of the delay, a new, larger year-end tax package may emerge.

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