Tax Reform Unlikely if Republicans Lose White House, Kies Says

Ken Kies, managing director of the Federal Policy Group, LLC, joined REIT.com for a video interview at REITWise 2016: NAREIT’s Law, Accounting and Finance Conference at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C.

Federal Policy Group advises clients on tax policy matters before Congress, the Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service and the OECD. Kies previously served as the chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Kies commented on the prospects for fundamental tax reform in 2017 if the Republican Party is unsuccessful in attempting to take control of the White House and Congress in this year’s general election. Kies said he expects the Republicans to retain their edge in the House of Representatives.  “Democrats didn’t recruit top-tier candidates to try and take out (Republican) House members,” he said.

However, if Republicans lose the White House, then they will probably also lose the Senate, according to Kies. If that’s the case, he said, the likelihood of tax reform in 2017 is less than 20 percent.

“The two parties are pretty far apart ideologically on tax reform,” Kies observed. “The lack of bipartisanship is probably the worst it’s been in many decades, if not our lifetimes,” he added.

Kies also pointed out that the three remaining Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, have very different tax plans. Kies said he doesn’t expect that the candidates will offer additional details on their tax plans, either.

“For the most part, people are not choosing a candidate based on their tax plan. Presidential elections are popularity contests,” he said.

Meanwhile, if Trump prevails as the Republican nominee, the impact on House races will be minimal, according to Kies. However, Trump could play a “significant” role in a number of critical Senate races, including those in Wisconsin and Illinois, he added.