Conservative House Leader Says He's Open to Keeping Top Tax Rate

Trump, Republicans Advance U.S. Tax Reform Plan

House tax writers got a boost Monday when Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker said he is open to tentative plans for keeping the current top individual tax rate for the highest earners as part of a tax code overhaul set to be released as soon as next week. 

Walker said he could live with taxing the highest earners at the current top rate of 39.6 percent if that’s needed to get a tax bill enacted. Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the draft plan would have such a bracket in order to funnel more benefits to the middle class.

“A key thing is making sure this benefits the middle- and lower-income individuals,” Walker said in an interview. The caucus he chairs has more than 150 House members.

The Republican tax frameworks calls for collapsing the current seven tax rates into three -- 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent -- but it leaves the possibility for a fourth rate for top earners. The income thresholds for the brackets are still under discussion.

Walker said he trusts Republican leaders to deliver on a tax bill this year and has received a commitment that the tax writing House Ways and Means Committee would vote on one within weeks. During the drafting phase, Walker said he’s pushing for a provision that would allow individuals who do not itemize their deductions to nevertheless deduct as much as $2,100 per year for charitable giving. He is also working to ensure the mortgage interest deduction is retained.

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