Republicans have indicated that they want to focus on repealing most of the Affordable Care Act before they turn to tax policy. Many GOP members of Congress favor having a replacement for the ACA in hand before repeal.
"It's just the way the budget works that we won't be able to get the ability to write our tax reform bill until our spring budget passes, and then we write that through the summer," House Speaker Paul Ryan recently told Fox News' "Fox and Friends."
That means tax reform plans may not even start to get serious attention in the GOP-controlled Congress until the summer or fall. Republicans, who have 52 seats in the Senate, have signaled they want to use a process called reconciliation to pass legislation to repeal and replace the ACA and implement tax reform.
Democrats in a Senate that has become entrenched in bitter partisanship in the early days of Trump's presidency likely will not support the health care and tax changes. Therefore, the GOP will try to use a process that requires 51 votes rather than 60.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Congress will use fiscal year 2017 reconciliation for the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare. The fiscal 2018 reconciliation, which could come later this year, will focus on "a comprehensive tax plan" for both the "business side and individual tax rates," Spicer said.
A provision in budget reconciliation would not allow an ACA repeal and tax reform in one fiscal year. Even though repealing Obamacare is the priority, Republicans have yet to craft a replacement plan.
"My guess is that next year is the earliest we'll see a big tax bill, and a lot of that depends on how much progress they make replacing Obamacare, which was a higher profile campaign promise than tax reform," said Robert Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan organization that promotes fiscal responsibility.
Republicans also will have to hash out disagreements among themselves about how best to structure tax policy. The most prominent discussion so far has centered around so-called border adjustment.
The proposal in the House GOP plan would put a 20 percent tax on imported goods. The border tax would coincide with slashing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent.
Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., urged colleagues Wednesday to reject the provision, saying it is "regressive, hammers consumers, and shuts down economic growth." Other GOP senators — including Mike Lee of Utah and John Cornyn of Texas — also have expressed skepticism about the plan.
The White House has appeared to warm to the idea somewhat, floating a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports as a possible method to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that could cost an estimated $21.6 billion.
Goldwein said that issue is "likely just the first of many discussions" that will take place during what will be a "hard process."
Democrats also have raised concerns about how tax changes could affect different income groups. Analyses of Trump's campaign plans said they would help wealthy taxpayers more than the middle class, though Trump's Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin has said that will not happen.