Ryan is a new entry this year
Paul Ryan was elected as the speaker of the US House of
Representatives on October 29 2015, having previously chaired
the House Ways and Means Committee, one of the two main
tax-writing committees in Washington, DC.
The 45-year-old has an impressive resume, having also worked
in the House Budget Committee for more than a decade, chairing
it between 2011 and 2015, and running as vice president on the
ticket of defeated presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, against
whom Barack Obama secured his second term as President.
Ryan is very much an advocate of low taxes, claiming during
the 2012 election campaign: "You can cut tax rates by 20% and
still preserve these important preferences for middle-class
taxpayers… It is mathematically possible. It's been done
before. It's precisely what we're proposing."
A long-time advocate of comprehensive US tax reform, Ryan's
election to the House Speaker role has given rise to cautious
optimism of reform action – after the election, of
course. Tax reform is Ryan's "number one priority", and would
likely involve significant corporate and personal tax cuts in
exchange for the discontinuation of many of the US's tax
credits and other special provisions.
"How reassuring would it be if we actually fixed the tax
code," says Ryan. "The cynics will scoff – they'll say
it's not possible… You better believe we're going to
A Ryan tax reform would include sweeping changes to
healthcare credits, a widespread cull of tax extenders and the
end of the deduction for state and local income taxes. He is
more in-tune with the business community than many of his
colleagues on the Hill, and would also look to bring the
corporate tax rate down to somewhere in the region of 25%.
Further movement toward a US VAT would also not be out of the
With political gridlock in Washington proving
insurmountable, it is still unclear whether Ryan's job-switch
is good or bad news for tax reform prospects. He will not be
able to concentrate as fully on pure tax issues in the speaker
role, but the position is more high profile, meaning he could
use the platform to push the tax reform agenda. Despite the
role change, Ryan's straddling of two incredibly influential
positions in Congress has been enough to secure him a place on
the Global Tax 50 2015.
In a speech welcoming the Wisconsin-born politician to his
new post, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said of Ryan:
"He spends his nights dreaming about tax policy."
That's our kind of guy.