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U.S. business execs skeptical about tax reform in 2017

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WASHINGTON - U.S. business executives are skeptical that President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress can overhaul the U.S. tax code this year but believe tax reform is likely to occur in 2018, according to a survey released on Thursday.

Only 16 percent of about 1,000 business, tax and financial executives polled by KPMG, a big accounting and advisory firm, said they expect to see tax reform in 2017.

Just over half predicted it would occur next year, while 11 percent said they do not expect to see fundamental tax policy changes until 2019. Twenty-one percent were unsure about timing.

The findings, collected during a March 2 KPMG webcast on tax reform, coincide with growing doubts among lawmakers and lobbyists about a Republican goal of getting health care and tax reform bills through the House of Representatives and the Senate before Congress breaks for the summer on July 28.

Trump has vowed to deliver major tax cuts to the middle-class and the business community this year, as part of an economic policy agenda intended to boost economic growth and create millions of new jobs.

But deepening Republican divisions over a House Republican healthcare bill have spawned concern that the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare could become mired in debate, delaying subsequent action on tax reform.

The tax reform debate has also encountered its own hurdles. Trump’s advisers, Congress and industry have been split over a House tax reform proposal that seeks to boost U.S. manufacturing by imposing a 20 percent tax on imports and exempting export revenues from taxation.

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