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The final GOP tax bill is taking shape. Here are the last-minute changes

Key Senate holdouts signaled their support for the GOP tax plan on Friday, moving it closer in their aggressive push for passage before the holiday recess. What's in the latest version? Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff to break down the latest developments.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The GOP tax plan moved closer to passage this evening, as some key Senate holdouts signaled their support for the revised legislation.

    Our own Lisa Desjardins joins us now from Capitol Hill, to help explain what is in this latest version of the tax bill.

    So, Lisa, I know you've just come from a briefing. This has been breaking very late in the day. But before I ask you about what's in the bill, tell us quickly about those holdouts, who they are and why they came back on board.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Two very big and yes votes for Republicans, Judy.

    First, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida became a yes today after he won some gains for the child tax credit that he wanted. It will now be refundable for lower income people. And then, secondly, one that I don't think we expected, Bob Corker of Tennessee, he was the lone no vote on the Senate version, now he is a yes. He said he was worried about the deficit, but he said after talking to people at home, he has said in totality, he thinks it's better to pass this bill even if it's not perfect.

    All right. So, where does this leave us?

    We have two undecideds left in the Senate, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and also Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. His office confirming he is still undecided.

    Now, the Republicans could technically lose both of those undecided votes and still pass this with 50 votes, but, Judy, we have two senators who have been ill. Senator John McCain was in the hospital this week at Walter Reed, and also, treatment related to his cancer. And also, Senator Thad Cochran had a procedure done in the hospital. We're told that both men should be back next week but the timing will be affected by their health.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, few question marks. But, Lisa, tell us now about what you've learned about what is in this bill, and how it's going to affect individuals and businesses.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Just minutes ago, Judy, the House and Senate jointly and published and posted for the first time the final language of this now 500-page bill.

    Let me first talk about what it means for individuals, for you and I. Here are the tax rates. So, folks, look at your income. And, generally, you can look at two groups here. First, those who are making under $150,000, your tax rates will be somewhere between 10 percent and 25 percent. Those are lower rates. This is just for individuals. If you're married, generally, it's double that for the income.

    Let's look at the higher income groups, Judy. If you're making $157,500 as an individual or more, your tax rate will be between 32 percent and 37 percent. Significant because in this bill, Judy, they are bringing that top tax rate from 39.6 to 37. That's something the Democrats say is a giveaway to the wealthy but something the Republicans wanted to do. The corporate tax rate, Judy, in this, goes from the current 35 percent to 21 percent. That's something the president has said he can accept.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Which I know, everybody has had their eye on because of that significant drop.

    So, Lisa, what about some of the major deduction changes, exemptions in here. What happened there?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes, let's go over the big kind of hot topics. First of all, that state and local property tax deduction especially affecting high cost states, here's the final deal- people will be able to deduct $10,000 worth of taxes, either income tax, sales tax or property tax, you decide in any combination you want.

    The mortgage deduction, that will now be capped at $750,000 on new homes going forward. Interesting change, that can include second homes now. I think that's probably something that New Jersey will like.

    Medical expenses, that's actually being expanded. Folks who deduct medical expenses now will continue to do so and more people will be able to do so.

    And, Judy, some late changes, student loan deduction, that is kept as it is now. At one point, that was repealed but that will continue under this. And the same thing for historic property deduction.

    One huge note, though, Judy, a lot of people were watching — the individual mandate, that will be repealed in this final bill, but, Judy, not until 2019. Lawmakers are giving, I guess, one year to perhaps stabilize the market out of concern for what that will do. Individual mandate penalty will stay in effect next year in this bill but then go away.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So many changes here at the last minute and very quickly, Lisa, the child tax credit, which is what a couple of the senators are holding out for.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right, it goes from $1,000 per child to $2,000 per child. And as I said, thanks to Marco Rubio, people at lower income levels will get it refundable. So, even if they don't pay taxes, if they have children, they will see more money back from the federal government because of that change.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa Desjardins, watching it all at the capital, as the week winds up by heading for a vote next week, thank you, Lisa.

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