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House tax positions begin to emerge ahead of talks with Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in U.S. House of Representatives began staking out their positions on final tax legislation on Tuesday, days ahead of talks with the Senate to shape the tax package lawmakers hope to send to President Donald Trump by year end.

FILE PHOTO: The United States Capitol is seen at night on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

While lawmakers expect a smooth reconciliation of rival House and Senate tax bills, House Republicans have taken issue with several items in the Senate’s legislation - from a one-year delay in cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent to the sunsetting of individual tax cuts after 2025.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said lawmakers are determined to eliminate the alternative minimum taxes (AMTs) on corporations and individuals that the Senate bill retained.

“House members ... feel strongly that the House position should be to repeal permanently both the individual and the corporate,” said Brady, who is expected to chair the House-Senate negotiations that could begin next week.

The corporate and individual AMTs are designed to limit the ability of corporations and wealthy individuals to reduce their payments through tax breaks and credits. But jettisoning them could require tough decisions on how to keep the legislation below a $1.5 trillion ceiling on revenue losses.

Republicans must also bridge differences on taxes for corporate and pass-through businesses, top earners, inheritances, individual tax brackets and repeal of the Obamacare individual health insurance mandate.

Republicans hope to approve a final bill and deliver it to Trump’s desk before Christmas. If they succeed, it will be the first major U.S. tax overhaul in 31 years and the first big Republican legislative victory since Trump took office in January.

The House voted to go to conference with the Senate on Monday, and Republicans named nine conference delegates. Senate Republicans could name delegates as early as Wednesday.

“My hope is that we’re done with this within 10 days to two weeks,” said Representative Kristi Noem, a Republican conference delegate and member of Brady’s committee.

House Republicans are also considering a new approach to the deduction for state and local taxes. Both the House and Senate bills eliminate deductions for income and sales taxes but retain one for $10,000 in property taxes.

Republicans from high-tax states, including New York and New Jersey, have been angered by the change. But Brady said Republicans are considering the possibility of giving taxpayers an option to deduct $10,000 in state and local property taxes, income taxes or sales taxes.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman