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Tax Reform 2017

On March 7th, the National Structured Settlement Trade Association industry leaders converged on Washington D.C. in an effort to meet with Congressional members of the Ways and Means Committee and other key ranking U.S. Representatives in a concerted effort to discuss the importance of our structured settlement industry and why our two main Tax Codes should not be in the "special interest pile" when tax reform occurs. Susan Clark of the AVITAS Team and other key Millennium Consultants participated in this event; along with many of the NSSTA Board members, and life insurance company representatives.

As happens at every "Take the Hill", the morning starts with an Uber ride from the hotel to Capitol Hill, passing the National Mall where sleepy protestors are just beginning to convene for the day's particular cause-water rights, women's rights, Native American's rights. On Independence Avenue, the street is already lined with taxis and young people armed with notebooks and Starbucks duteously forming lines to enter the different House office buildings. Despite the early hour, people are quietly excited to begin their meetings. After gaining security clearance into the buildings, we all bustle through the labyrinth of hallways throughout the Rayburn, Canon and Longworth Buildings. Sometimes you run into other NSSTA members as they are looking for their next appointments, sometimes you see no one and often there are throngs of other groups-of all ages--participating in their own lobbying efforts. The group met with a few prominent U.S. Representatives on the Ways and Means Committee-Representative George Holding (NC-R), Rep. Jason Smith (MO-R) and finally Rep. Devin Nunez (R-CA) joined the group for lunch to speak with us all about tax reform. Our representative met with tax and legal counsels for key Representatives from Texas who also serve on the Ways and Means Committee - Kevin Brady (TX-R), Kenny Marchant (TX-R) and Sam Johnson (TX-R).

 

So, why did we focus on the members from the Ways and Means Committee this year? "The Committee on Ways and Means has the responsibility for raising the revenue required to finance the Federal Government. This includes individual and corporate income taxes, excise taxes, estate taxes, gift taxes, and other miscellaneous taxes" ( Ways and Means Committee). As Representative Nunes explained to the group over lunch, tax reform will occur in 2017.   They have an ambitious agenda-first to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act and then to simplify the U.S. Tax Code and we now know that their efforts will continue on that front.   Their goal is to simplify the Tax Code in order to stimulate the economy by encouraging the creation of new small businesses and investments.  Most believe tax reform will occur this year because of a few factors. Of course, it helps that "the House GOP tax plan overlaps with 80 percent of Trump's ideas" (TheHill.com). Our message to all of the Representatives was to explain the importance of Sections 104 and 130 to each of them and the impact those codes have on claimants (their constituents), life insurance companies, property casualty companies and, of course, our companies.

 

We received reassurances from most Representatives that they agreed with the work we do and do not foresee that our industry would inadvertently be removed from the new Tax Code. Even with the reassurances, we still have work to do. NSSTA's Executive Director will be meeting in the upcoming months with the lead counsel for the Ways and Means Committee who is in charge of tax reform to secure our position.Even though "Take the Hill" occurs annually in Washington D.C., each of us can do our own part locally by contacting our U.S. Representatives.  To find your Representative, you simply type in your zip code here.  Most of the Congress-people have links to contact them or set up an appointment. It is as simple as explaining what we do (especially if you have a local story about a case), the various companies involved (for scope of the industry) and the importance of the Tax Codes to our industry.This is an important year for structured settlements, so please help us help your clients in any way you can.

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