Corker seeks more info on tax bill provision that reportedly benefits him

FILE-In this Oct. 25, 2017 file photo, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., talks to reporters as he returns to his office from a vote, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is asking the Senate Finance Committee chairman to provide more information on a provision included in a tax bill that reportedly benefits him personally.

According to the International Business Times, a last-minute change to the Republican tax reform legislation by the conference committee could result in Corker's own taxes being reduced by up to $1.1 million.

Corker announced on Friday that he would support the tax plan in a final vote this week after being the only Republican to vote against the Senate version of it earlier this month, citing its impact on the federal deficit. In a statement, he argued the bill is imperfect, but it is better than nothing and he believes it will boost the economy.

Tax experts told the IBT that Republican congressional leaders and real estate moguls could be personally enriching themselves by allowing owners of large real estate holdings to deduct a percentage of “pass-through” income.

The article mentioned that a late provision added to the bill would allow the owners of large real estate holdings through LLCs to deduct a percentage of their “pass through” income from their taxes.

"Pass-through" businesses are companies organized as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, or S corporations that don’t pay the corporate income tax and instead are taxed at individual rates.

The IBT report says, "Sen. Bob Corker, who was considered a potential ‘no’ vote on the bill, abruptly switched his position upon the release of the final legislation. Federal records reviewed by IBT show that Corker has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate related LLCs that could also benefit."

Corker told the website he was unaware of the provision when he announced he was changing his vote, but he admitted he had not actually read the bill yet.

“I don’t really know what the provision does to be honest. I would need an accountant to explain it,” Corker said. “I had no knowledge of this and would have no knowledge of it except for you guys are calling me about it. I have no idea whatsoever whether it impacts me or doesn’t impact me.”

Despite his denial that the change influenced his decision, the hashtag #CorkerKickback trended on Twitter through the weekend.

On Sunday, Corker sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orin Hatch, R-Utah, questioning why this provision was inserted, adding that his understanding is that it was always in the House bill but not in the version the Senate previously passed.

“Because this issue has raised concerns, I would ask that that you provide an explanation of the evolution of this provision and how it made it into the final conference report,” Corker wrote. “I think that because of many sensitivities, clarity on this issue is very important and hope that you will respond in an expeditious manner.”

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