Republican side-deals build support for Senate tax bill
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) (Photo: Screen capture)

U.S. Senate Republicans were considering a raft of last-minute changes to their sweeping tax bill on Friday, as they edged toward a final vote that could move Congress to year-end enactment of tax cuts for businesses and individuals.

Deals include a higher tax deduction for owners of pass-through businesses and a phase-out of full expensing for business capital investments.

To pay for these changes, Republicans say they will no longer repeal the alternative minimum taxes for corporations and individuals and will raise tax rates on the repatriation of corporate profits held overseas.

Senate Republicans have yet to unveil a final bill for adoption. But here is an unofficial list of anticipated changes, according to lawmakers and lobbyists.

* PASS-THROUGHS: Senators Ron Johnson and Steve Daines announced their support for the tax bill after securing agreement on a bigger tax break for the owners of pass-through enterprises, including small businesses, S-corporations, partnerships and sole-proprietorships. An original 17.4 percent deduction would rise to 23 percent.

* FULL EXPENSING: Senator Jeff Flake, who was a holdout over deficit concerns, agreed to vote "yes" after Republican leaders agreed to change a provision allowing the full expensing of business capital investments to sunset after five years. Flake worried that Congress would be unable to eliminate the benefit cold turkey, allowing it to bleed red ink for years to come. But the Arizona Republican says the change would instead phase out full expensing over three years beginning in year six.

* RETIREMENT SAVINGS: Senator Susan Collins said she persuaded Republican leaders to retain catch-up contributions to retirement accounts for church, charity, school and public employees.

* MEDICAL EXPENSES: Collins also said she was able to include language to reduce the threshold for deducting unreimbursed medical expenses for two years to 7.5 percent of household income from 10 percent.

* STATE AND LOCAL PROPERTY TAXES: Collins has proposed an amendment that would retain a federal deduction for up to $10,000 in state and local property taxes.

* INDIVIDUAL ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX: Rescinding a proposed repeal of the AMT and instead increase exemption levels and phase-out thresholds is also on the table.

* CORPORATE ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX: So is rescinding a proposed repeal of the corporate AMT.

* REPATRIATION: Another change could be to increase tax rates on U.S. corporate profits held overseas to 14 percent for liquid assets and 7 percent for illiquid holdings, up from 10 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jonathan Oatis)