Tax package would ease hit to residents of high-tax states

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans today were speeding toward an agreement on a massive tax package that would ease the hit on Americans living in high-tax states and appease corporations that could have lost precious tax breaks.

Negotiators were working to expand a deduction for state and local taxes to allow individuals to deduct income taxes as well as property taxes, said two congressional aides. Negotiators were also working to eliminate the alternative minimum tax for corporations, the aides said.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations.

Negotiators were still working Tuesday on how to pay for the expanded tax breaks, though Republican lawmakers were optimistic a deal was eminent. The total amount of tax breaks cannot exceed $1.5 trillion over the next decade, under budget rules adopted by both the House and Senate.

The Senate's No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said a deal could come as soon as today. "I think it could and I hope it is," he said.

Both the House and Senate bills would scale back the deduction for state and local taxes, limiting it to $10,000 in property taxes. The issue is important to lawmakers from high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California.

California Republicans are pushing to amend the bill to enable individuals to deduct state and local income taxes as well as property taxes. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said there is an agreement on how to address the issue, though he wasn't specific.

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