Tax Update Blog

Former Treas. Official Casts Doubt on Passing Retirement Bill this Year

October 6, 2022 | Blog
By Jay Heflin

The odds for Congress passing retirement legislation this year is markedly low, according to Mark Iwry, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Retirement and Health Policy at Treasury.

“I don’t think it is probable that it will be enacted in this lame duck session,” he told the Tax Policy Center during an interview on the organization’s The Prescription webcast.

Iwry said the odds are “something less than 50-50” that retirement legislation would pass before year end. He said people who tout better odds for passage probably have skin in the game.

“There’s a natural tendency of those who are involved with the legislation [to be]…naturally inclined to overstate the probability [of passage] once you put enough work in there,” he said.

He suggested that the legislative differences between the retirement bill approved by the House and the retirement legislation advanced by Senate committees might be too great to overcome. The Senate has yet to pass its retirement bill from the chamber.

Iwry also thinks that once lawmakers return to Washington after the elections they will be focused on “the burning issues of the moment” – which does not seem to include a retirement bill.

Possible issues that could override passing a retirement bill during a lame duck session:

  • Funding the federal government beyond December 16th (must pass legislation)
  • Funding for defense spending
  • Passing election-reform
  • Advancing COVID aid
  • Extending aid to Ukraine
  • Approving marriage equality
  • Approving DACA (immigration)

Any of these issues could be very time-consuming and fill lawmakers’ time when they return to Washington in mid-November. Lawmakers are likely leave town before the holidays, which means the lame duck session could last roughly four or five weeks.

Iwry’s remarks on passing a retirement bill came as a bit of a shock to some in D.C.’s tax community. The common expectation has been that a retirement bill had a much better chance for passage than legislation that would extend several tax provisions, which is commonly known as a “tax extender” bill.

Tax extender legislation has been embroiled in a months-long partisan argument that is expected to keep it from passing Congress this year. The political parties have squared-off over extending and expanding the Child Tax Credit or allowing Research and Development costs to be expensed. One party backs one provision and opposes the other, while the other party holds the exact opposite position. Currently, this disagreement is not expected to be resolved after the elections and may continue into the new year.

Recent Eide Bailly coverage on retirement legislation is here.


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