TO: Autism Society of America Affiliates
FROM: Kim Musheno, Vice President of Public Policy
RE: Final Tax Bill Update and Action Needed

It’s going to be a packed week for Congress this last five days before leaving for the holiday.¬† Congress is expected to pass the final tax-cut bill and they must finalize the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bills to prevent a government shut-down (the current continuing resolution expires on Friday, Dec. 22).¬† Negotiations over the passage of the DREAM Act, a bill to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and raising caps on the discretionary funding will complicate the outcome of these decisions.

Late on Friday the conference committee working to reconcile the House and Senate tax cut bills released the final bill. The House is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday (Dec. 19); the Senate will likely vote on Wednesday (Dec. 20). Here are some of the key disability provisions of the bill posted online:

  • Individual Mandate under ACA is¬†repealed.¬†“Elimination of Shared Responsibility Payment for Individuals Failing to Maintain Minimal Essential Coverage. The conference agreement follows the Senate amendment.” (p 153)
  • Disabled Access Credit – good news is that this was taken out of the final bill so that this important deduction will remain in law. “Repeal of credit for expenditures to provide access to disabled individuals. … The conference agreement does not follow the House bill provision.” (p 290)
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit is will also remain in law. This is good news as this incentivizes businesses to hire people with disabilities. “Repeal of work opportunity tax credit. … The conference agreement does not follow the House bill provision.” (p 285)
  • Orphan Drug credit is¬†reduced to 25%.¬†¬†This tax deduction is important to provide incentives to develop drug therapies for rare diseases and conditions. “Repeal of credit for clinical testing expenses for certain drugs for rare diseases or conditions. … The conference agreement follows the Senate amendment, but reduces the credit rate to 25 percent of qualified clinical testing expenses.” (p 282) Joint Committee on Taxation score (attached)
  • For those of you who want all of the details, see the attached Budget Effects of the Conferenced bill and the Joint¬†Explanatory¬†Statement:¬†http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20171218/Joint%20Explanatory%20Statement.pdf
  • Last-minute changes to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) that was put into the final tax bill do not change the fundamental fact that low-income working families still would largely miss out on the full CTC. See Center on Budget report here:¬†https://www.cbpp.org/blog/final-ctc-changes-dont-alter-tax-bill-basics-24-million-working-family-children-get-little-or
  • Information on¬†special interest provisions put in during last minute negotiations:¬†http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/donald-trump-gop-leaders-could-be-enriched-last-minute-tax-break-inserted-final

While we are pleased to see some of the disability-related deductions in the final bill, it still increases the national debt by at least $1.5 Trillion. The President and House Speaker Ryan and others have not been shy about saying stating that they will pay for this deficit with cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other programs that support people with disabilities. It will also destabilize the health insurance marketplace by repealing the tax individuals are required to pay if they do not get covered by health insurance.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates this will lead to 13 million not signing up for coverage and at least a ten percent increase in premiums.

The Autism Society is co-sponsoring a final call-in day today (see announcement https://www.facebook.com/events/1698849603470859/).  We hope you will participate.  To connect with your members of Congress, use the Capitol switchboard number at 202-224-3121.

Please also urge your members of Congress to pass the bill to reauthorize CHIP to prevent millions of children from losing access to affordable health care .