By Brandon Roman of Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm

Last week, the Policy and Taxation Group held its annual Supporters Dinner and Meeting, during which we had the opportunity to hear from Members of Congress, congressional staff l, and industry experts about tax reform – particularly as relates to repeal of the death tax.

To kick-off our Supporters Dinner, we heard from Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who discussed the importance of tax reform, which includes repeal of the death tax. Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH)- Chairman of the National Congressional Campaign Committee – also joined us and previewed the “unified framework” for tax reform that was unveiled publicly the following day. The Congressman expressed support for repeal of the death tax and indicated a belief that tax reform would ultimately include repeal. That said, he urged our supporters to continue their efforts on Capitol Hill to get the message across.

The following day we convened our Supporters Meeting, where we heard from numerous lawmakers, beginning with the sponsor of a bill in the House to kill the death tax – Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD). She expressed her commitment to doing everything she can to see repeal be part of tax reform. Though included in the “unified framework” for tax reform, she urged our supporters to continue doing all we can to help with messaging on the issue, as that is the biggest obstacle ahead. Representative Noem – having herself seen firsthand the negative consequences that can stem from the death tax – indicated the personalizing the issue is critical to helping Members understand that this is not just a tax break for the wealthy. We also heard from Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), who expressed their commitment to seeing repeal as part of tax reform and again underscored the importance of getting our message out there.

In addition to the Members themselves, we heard from staff to key tax-writers, including John Porter (Chief of Staff to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX)) and Mark Warren (Chief of Staff to Senator John Thune (R-SD)). On behalf of Chairman Brady, John expressed his commitment to getting tax reform done this year that includes repeal of the death tax. As for the perspective of Senator Thune – who has been the champion of repeal in the Senate – Mark indicated that repeal will be in the final bill. That said, both acknowledged the challenges ahead in terms of messaging. As such, they both encouraged us to stay engaged to ensure that Members understand the negative impact this tax actually has on a broad array of taxpayers.

Representing the Democratic perspective, we heard from staff to two moderate Senate Democrats who are actively engaged in tax reform discussions. Craig Radcliffe (Chief of Staff to Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)) and Andrew Lattimer (Chief of Staff to Senator Joe Donnell (D-IN)) both expressed a keen interest in bipartisan tax reform. Both Craig and Andrew suggested that while their bosses each have particular concerns with the Republican approach to tax reform, they are willing to engage and will look at the overall package when complete – not just a single provision.

We also heard from Frank Luntz (Luntz Global) who discussed the political landscape and challenges ahead for both tax reform generally and repeal of the death tax specifically. Aubrey Rothrock (Squire Patton Boggs) provided an update on our legislative strategy and where we are headed in terms of our advocacy efforts – which was informed by Russ Sullivan’s (McGuire Woods) insight into the Democratic perspective on the death tax. We also discussed two important pieces of data: Harold Hancock (McGuire Woods) discussed the revenue estimate we had Quantria put together and Preston Root (FEUSA) discussed FEUSA’s ongoing work to collect and analyze key data about the impact of the death tax on small businesses. Additionally, we heard from Harry Alford (Co-Founder, Black Chamber of Commerce) about their engagement on the death tax as relates to the outsized impact on minority-owned businesses.

Overall it was a productive two days and we appreciate all who were able to join us.

Thank you for your continued support!