Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew dismissed efforts in Congress to overhaul the nation’s tax laws by lowering the top income tax rate paid by individuals, saying lawmakers should instead focus on simplifying taxes paid by businesses.
Lew said Democrats and Republicans are far apart on how much wealthy individuals should pay in federal income taxes. He said there are more areas of agreement on business taxes.
“I don’t think that there’s any advantage in pretending that there aren’t big disagreements on the individual tax side,” Lew said at a forum hosted by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “We had a national debate just two years ago about the top rate. We’re not looking at the kind of negotiation to go back to lower the top rate.”
“While our views on individual tax reform may be far apart,” Lew added, “there is a broad set of business tax reforms on which we should be able to agree.”
Key Republicans in Congress, however, are skeptical that Obama’s proposals would do enough to help small businesses.
“Let’s start the discussion on businesses, but it’s difficult to follow that all the way through without having a real adult conversation about individual rates because so many of our businesses are filing over there,” said Rep Kevin Brady of Texas, a senior Republican on the Ways and Means Committee.
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