Senate narrowly passes controversial tax reform bill

Bill will offer tax cuts to major corporations and wealthiest earners


The Senate passed a massive tax overhaul in the early hours of Saturday morning after several last-minute, handwritten revisions were scribbled in the margins of the 479-page bill.

The measure passed 51 to 49 and would offer large permanent tax cuts to major corporations, such as Apple, General Electric and Goldman Sachs, according to The New York Times. The bill aims to reorganize and lower the taxes businesses and corporations pay in order to stimulate economic growth.

The plan would increase the national deficit to more than $1 trillion over 10 years, according to the United States Congress Joint Committee on Taxation. But Republicans believe economic growth will partially offset the cost of the bill.

The House of Representatives passed a similar sweeping tax reform bill on Nov. 16, with a few differences. Those differences have to be resolved and both chambers will vote on a new, cohesive piece of legislation at a later date.

Under the House bill, graduate students who receive tuition waivers would now have to pay income tax on the waiver. UB students and faculty participated in a walk-out last Wednesday in opposition to this provision of the tax plan. While graduate student tuition waivers were not addressed in the Senate bill, they could still be a provision in the final piece of legislation crafted by both chambers.

Another difference in the Senate bill is a two-fold increase in the standard deduction, a dollar amount that reduces the amount of income you are taxed on. The bill also eliminates a provision of the Affordable Care Act that imposes a tax penalty for those who do not purchase health insurance.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said in a statement that he feels the legislation, while “far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy and provide long overdue tax relief for middle class families.”

Democrats remain in opposition to the bill and say it will benefit corporations at the expense of the middle class.

“My Republican friends must know that ‘we needed to notch a political win’ isn’t a good enough excuse for a constituent who asks why you voted to raises their taxes but slash them for big corporations,” Senate Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer said Friday.

Maddy Fowler is the editorial editor and can be reached at maddy.fowler@ubspectrum.com