DealBook: Tax Revamp in U.S. Hits Snags

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

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Protesters near President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida demanded on Saturday that he release his tax returns.
Protesters near President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida demanded on Saturday that he release his tax returns. Al Drago/The New York Times
By Amie Tsang
Donald J. Trump made big promises to overhaul the tax code during his successful election campaign. But efforts to make changes have barely gotten off the ground.
One problem is President Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, maintained on Monday that Mr. Trump would not be publishing the information. Mr. Spicer said voters had elected the president with full knowledge that he was breaking decades of precedent by refusing to release his returns.
But Democrats have united around a pledge not to cooperate on any rewriting of the tax code unless they know specifically how that revision might benefit the president and his family. Republicans are joining calls for Mr. Trump to publish his tax returns, too.
The administration’s tax plan has not yet materialized, and a House Republican plan has bogged down.
The White House’s aim to get a tax overhaul signed before August was “highly aggressive to not realistic,” Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, told The Financial Times.
Mr. Mnuchin insisted that he still expected changes this year, but acknowledged that the administration’s failure to pass new health care legislation had affected the timeline: “It is fair to say it is probably delayed a bit because of the health care.”
Further reading: If you want to know where tax dollars are going in the United States, take a look at the database and report that Steven A. Ballmer, the former chief executive of Microsoft, is to make public later Tuesday. Mr. Ballmer, with a small army of economists, professors and other professionals, has spent the last three years on USAFacts, a stealth start-up that he calls “the equivalent of a 10-K for government,” referring to the kind of annual filing that companies make.
Arconic Chief Is Ousted
Klaus Kleinfeld has resigned as chief executive of Arconic, and it wasn’t just because the firm gave in to the activist campaign that the hedge fund Elliott Management has been waging on the company.
Mr. Kleinfeld had sent Elliott a letter without consulting his fellow board members, a move that Arconic said showed “poor judgment.”
Arconic, an aluminum parts manufacturer, said the decision about Mr. Kleinfeld’s departure had been made by mutual consent, adding that it was not a response to Elliott’s lobbying or to any missed financial targets.
“It is Elliott Management’s decision whether to continue to burden Arconic and its shareholders with its highly disruptive and distracting proxy fight, or to support Arconic in facilitating an effective C.E.O. search and a strong transition,” Arconic said.
Elliott said that Mr. Kleinfeld’s letter was a serious matter.
It said that the message “read as a threat to intimidate or extort” a senior executive at the hedge fund based on false insinuations.
Arconic will remain in Elliott’s cross hairs because the manufacturer still supports Mr. Kleinfeld’s strategy, Tom Buerkle writes in Breakingviews. Investors are scheduled to vote on whether to add four directors to its board next month, and the hedge fund has proposed its own candidate for chief executive.
Silver Lake Raises Buying Power
The investment firm Silver Lake, which has spearheaded some of the most prominent private equity deals in technology and media during the past decade, plans to announce on Tuesday that it has closed its fifth buyout fund at $15 billion.
The fund, one of the biggest ever dedicated to technology deals, exceeds Silver Lake’s $12.5 billion fund-raising target and brings its total assets and committed capital to about $39 billion.
Silver Lake will be hosting its investors at its annual meeting in Manhattan this week, and it will be hoping to strike more deals that involve helping portfolio companies to get bigger by buying competitors.
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