Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., points to boxes of petitions supporting the Republican tax reform bill that is set for a vote later this week as he arrives for a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (J. Scott Applewhite, The Associated Press)

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner keeps marijuana businesses in mind for tax bill

WASHINGTON — With help from U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Republicans in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday advanced their plan for what would be the nation’s first tax code overhaul in three decades.

Beyond its historical implications are a number of points of debate, one of the biggest being the bill’s impact on the deficit. A nonpartisan analysis projects the Senate bill would increase the deficit by about $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years, but GOP leaders counter that tax cuts would ease that figure.

As Republicans race to pass the bill through Congress, the bill is also drawing a lot of interest and concern in Colorado,¬†from its impact on the middle class to its effect on health care and the state’s wind and beer industries.

Bennet and Gardner take opposite tacks

Colorado’s two U.S. senators are expected to go their separate ways on the tax bill — with Gardner aligning with other Republicans in support and Michael Bennet joining with fellow Democrats in opposition. Gardner said the tax cuts would help “raise wages for working families” and get “America competitive again.” Bennet, in a weekly address held by Democrats, reiterated Democratic concerns that the bill would help the rich at the expense of the lower and middle classes. “Under the Republican tax plan, people making over $1 million a year would receive tax cuts of about $59,000 per year, while families earning $50,000 or less would see just $160 — or $7.50 more each paycheck,” he said. “Tens of millions of middle class families would actually see their taxes go up.”

Marijuana company tax deductions

Gardner said he plans to try and add an amendment to the tax package that would change the law so that marijuana companies could use common tax deductions and credits — such as those for hiring veterans. Those currently are off-limits for the pot industry, and Gardner said he wants to level the playing field. “This would put them in line with other businesses,” said Gardner, who was cautiously optimistic about the amendment’s chances. “It may or may not happen, but I’d like to see it happen.”

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