WASHINGTON - An army of lobbyists has been mobilizing in the halls of Congress over recent months in anticipation of what could be a monumental struggle later this year over reforming the tax code.
While the standoff over sequester spending cuts and other budget battles have grabbed headlines, momentum has quietly been building toward a once-in-a-generation push to overhaul federal taxes, an effort that would likely affect nearly every family and business.
Tax reform edged closer to center stage in recent days after President Obama opened conversations with Republicans over a deal to tackle the federal deficit. A broad rewrite of the tax code could figure in such an agreement.
The prospect of a tax overhaul has already kicked the capital's influence industry into high gear. From corporate chiefs and hedge fund lobbyists to Montana ranchers and Broadway producers, the players have already begun their campaigns, pressing for everything from lowering the corporate tax rate to preserving cherished deductions.
Much of that energy is being directed at a hectic suite of cramped, nondescript offices in the 80-year-old Longworth House Office Building, where eight staffers on the Ways and Means Committee are sifting through possible changes.
Eager to help are a steady stream of lobbyists, like Duane Musser of the National Roofing Contractors Association, who stopped by the offices on a recent Wednesday to argue his case that commercial roofs should be granted faster depreciation for tax purposes.
Lobbying over the tax code has more than tripled since Obama took office, disclosure records show.
About 440 corporations and business groups spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying Congress and executive branch agencies on tax reform in the third quarter of last year, a Washington Post analysis shows.