Day 3 of Tax Wrap Up: Larson Fights to Preserve Medical Expense Deduction for Middle Class & Seniors
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Ways and Means Committee met for the third day of the mark-up of the harmful Republican Tax Plan. This proposal is a direct attack on Connecticut’s middle-class. The Republicans continued their political grandstanding, not accepting a single Democratic amendment, and rushing through consideration of the plan without hearing from expert witnesses, holding hearings, or listening to testimony from the public. Our Republican colleagues are not taking the concerns of the middle-class taxpayer seriously, a concern that they claimed was first and foremost in their tax bill. In response, my colleagues and I continued to introduce a series of amendments aimed at protecting the middle-class and those who would be most harmed by the Ryan-McConnell tax plan.
- Larson called out Republicans for eliminating the Medical Expense Deduction, making sick Americans bear the burden of tax cuts for America’s wealthiest. He introduced an amendment that would not only preserve this deduction, but lower the threshold for eligibility. The amendment failed in Committee along party lines. His introductory remarks can be viewed here. He made it clear that it’s wrong to make seniors pay for the elimination of the estate tax, a tax only the wealthiest Americans pay. Those remarks can be viewed here.
- Larson also supported Rep. Bill Pascrell’s amendment offering financial support to U.S. territories impacted by recent natural disasters. These are our fellow American citizens who need our help. Watch Larson’s remarks here.
- Larson supported Rep. John Lewis’s amendment, that would delay the effective date of revenue-reducing provisions of H.R. 1 until the U.S. Armed Forces are withdrawn from the current wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria and the budget deficit has been eliminated. The amendment failed along party lines in Committee. Larson introduced a similar measure in 2009, the Share the Sacrifice Act with David Obey, then Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and John Murtha, Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Committee. Larson’s full statement can be viewed here.
How does this affect Connecticut:
The elimination of the Medical Expense Deduction would greatly impact many communities across the nation. In Connecticut alone, 116,390 people claimed this deduction, averaging $11,114 in qualified medical expenses. The elimination of this deduction would result in a $1.6 billion hardship for Connecticut taxpayers at all levels, according to the Connecticut State Department of Revenue Services. Many constituents have contacted Larson’s offices with concerns over this elimination.
The Democrats introduced the following amendments so far today, none were accepted:
Democratic Amendment 9 - offered by Rep. Larson that would restore the medical expense deduction and drop that threshold of expenses to 7.5 percent of the taxpayer’s income. More information can be found here.
Democratic Amendment 10 – offered by Rep. Lewis of Georgia that would strike section 5201, known as the Johnson Amendment, and restore the 53-year standard that prohibits religious, non-profit, charitable and related organizations from engaging in political activities.
Democratic Amendment 11 - offered by Rep. Doggett of Texas that would restore the over $65 billion in cuts to tax relief for students and teachers by striking section 1204 of the bill (which repealed the above-and-line deductions for interest payments on qualified education loans and tuition and related expenses, and repealed the exclusions for interest on United States savings bonds used to pay for tuition, qualified tuition reductions, and employer-provided education assistance), and reinstating the $250 above the line deduction for out-of-pocket teacher expense. The bill would also expand the American Opportunity Act to increase the credit to a lifetime limit of $15,000, triple the refundable portion of the credit (from $500 to $1,500), add flexibility in the credit for part-time students, and fix an inconsistency in the code that currently disadvantages students who receive Pell Grants by allowing the AOTC to go towards the costs of education that the Pell Grant does not cover.
Democratic Amendment 12 - offered by Rep. Thompson of California that would retroactively extend and make permanent the exclusion from income on mortgage debt forgiveness, and repeal the limitations in the bill on the exclusion from capital gain on the sale of a taxpayer’s principal residence.
Democratic Amendment 13 - offered by Rep. Chu of California that would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to provide meaningful assistance to working childless adults and noncustodial parents.
Democratic Amendment 14 - offered by Rep. Delbene of Washington that would strike the section eliminating private activity bonds; increase low income housing tax credits available by 50%.
Democratic Amendment 15 - offered by Rep. Sewell of Alabama that would restore advanced refunding bonds.
Democratic Amendment 16 - offered by Rep. Crowley of New York that would provide an $8,000 tax credit for taxpayers purchasing their first home, and provide a credit for taxpayers who rent their homes and for whom their rent exceeds 30 percent of their income.
Democratic Amendment 17 - offered by Rep. Pascrell of New Jersey & Rep. Thompson of California that would add the Give Assistance and Help to Americans impacted by Natural Disasters Act (“Give A HAND” Act) as a new title at the end of this bill. The Give A HAND Act would ensure that all victims of natural disasters are treated equally by the Federal government by providing relief to individuals and businesses to both recover in the immediate aftermath of the natural disasters and rebuild American communities. Under the amendment, taxpayers who suffered from natural disasters in the past (from 2012 through 2015) would receive certain tax benefits retroactively that will help make them whole. The amendment also provides a package of relief provisions that are effective for all natural disasters from 2016 going forward including relief for victims from the recent wildfires in Northern California, and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The amendment would ensure that U.S. territories impacted by natural disasters, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – still reeling from the devastating storms, have the adequate tools and economic support from the Federal government to rebuild and begin to grow once again.
Democratic Amendment 18 – offered by Rep. DelBene of Washington to repeal the 40% health benefit tax also known as the “Cadillac Tax” that is set to take effect in 2020. Language was based on H.R. 173, originally introduced by Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Mike Kelly (R-PA).
Democratic Amendment 19 – offered by Rep. Doggett of Texas to restore the Alternative Minimum Tax, a provision that has long prevented many wealthy taxpayers from using loopholes to avoid paying taxes.
Democratic Amendment 20 – offered by Rep. Levin of Michigan that would have closed the carried interest loophole.
Democratic Amendment 21 – offered by Rep. Lewis of Georgia that would have delayed the effective date of revenue-reducing provisions of H.R. 1 until the U.S. Armed Forces withdrew from the current wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria and the budget deficit had been eliminated.
Larson’s previous statements on the tax proposal can be found here: