How the Senate tax bill changed in the GOP rush to pass it

Key Points
  • Several changes to the Senate Republican tax bill won over holdout senators.
  • Fifty-one of 52 GOP senators supported the plan.
  • Tweaks came in areas such as pass-through businesses, state and local tax deductions and the alternative minimum tax.
GOP may have enough votes to nail down tax bill and expect a vote today

A flurry of last-minute changes Friday to the Senate Republican tax bill secured its passage in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Fifty-one of 52 senators supported the proposal. At least five Republicans who started Friday undecided eventually voted for the bill: Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine.

Bob Corker of Tennessee opposed the bill. The retiring senator has sounded alarms about the $1 trillion or more in budget deficits the plan is expected to create.

The near-unanimous GOP support came only after a series of tweaks to appease senators — and even more changes to pay for those revisions.

Here are some of the last-minute changes in the Senate bill, which was released Friday night:

  • Pass-through deduction: To appease Daines and Johnson, the bill would now allow business owners to deduct 23 percent of pass-through income. The Senate initially proposed a deduction for 17.4 percent of income. Pass-through entities are taxed at individual tax rates.
  • State and local deductions: The Senate plan would make up to $10,000 in state and local property taxes deductible. Collins urged the change, which makes the Senate proposal match the legislation already passed by the House.
  • Alternative minimum tax: The alternative minimum tax would be partially retained. The initial Senate plan repealed the tax. The measure aims to guarantee that businesses and wealthy individuals pay a minimum tax.
  • Business expensing: The initial bill let businesses write off the full cost of expenses such as equipment for five years. After that, the benefit would now phase out instead of being eliminated immediately.
  • Medical cost deduction: Collins also pushed to expand the deduction for health-care costs that are not reimbursed. The bill would now lower the threshold for the deduction to 7.5 percent from 10 percent of income.
  • 401(k) contributions: The Senate plan would also scrap a previous proposal to eliminate so-called catch-up contributions to retirement accounts on a pretax basis, Collins said.

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Corker a 'no' on tax bill