On Friday evening, Congressional Republican leadership released the text of the conference report on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reflecting the final agreement between the House of Representatives and the Senate on their respective versions of tax reform. (Click here for the bill text, a description of the major provisions of the bill and the score of the bill and an explanation of the bill provided by the Joint Committee on Taxation)
The next step is that the House and the Senate must each vote on this conference committee report. Those votes should occur next week. Once the bills are approved (press reports indicate that there will enough Republicans to vote for the bill in both the House and Senate), the bill will go to President Trump for his signature.
The provision in the final bill of importance to ECFC members deals with qualified transportation fringe benefits. Under the bill, employers can no longer deduct expenses qualified transportation fringe benefits effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. Qualified bicycle commuting expenses will no longer be tax exempt to employees effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. Other qualified transportation fringe benefits, such as parking and transit passes, will continue to be tax exempt to employees, so that plans that offer salary reductions for such benefits will continue to be allowed. However, given that employers will no longer be able to deduct the costs of those benefits, there may be less incentive to sponsor such arrangements. The loss of deduction (likely at a new lower rate) will need to be weighed against the value of the employee exclusion. Provisions of the House-passed tax reform bill that affected dependent care assistance flexible spending arrangements, adoption assistance programs and education assistance programs and were not adopted in the final conference report.
The bill does eliminate the mandate for individuals purchasing health insurance, which was part of the Affordable Care Act. Other provisions of the ACA, including the excise tax on high cost health insurance (a/k/a the “Cadillac Tax”), were not addressed in this conference report. We have been lobbying Congress to provide a delay of the Cadillac Tax in other end-of-year legislation.
We will continue to alert membership of the progress of this tax reform bill.
ECFC Member Update House-Senate Conference Report on Tax Reform