Whether tax reform lives or dies could come down to “the score” from a powerful but little-known team of number crunchers on Capitol Hill.

As Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper on tax matters, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) takes no stance on whether a revamped tax code should raise more revenue for deficit reduction, how low rates should be, or whether the deductions for mortgage interest and charitable donations should be on the chopping block.

But they would provide the only official projection of how a tax reform bill would affect the country’s bottom line — just as they did when Washington last reworked the nation’s tax laws in 1986.

That makes their input crucial — and potentially frustrating — to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), both of whom have told colleagues they plan to move forward with a comprehensive tax revamp this fall.

Continue reading →