We’re living in the world of Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
It’s practically a dictionary definition to say that banks provide financial services. But when it comes to the new tax law, that’s not how the Treasury Department sees it.
Officials there have decided that nearly 2,000 banks are not financial services firms and therefore their owners qualify for a lower tax liability under the $1.5-trillion Republican tax-cut legislation that took effect Jan. 1.
The determination, sought by the banking industry, was one of dozens in 184 pages of proposed regulations issued this week by the Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service that will allow high-income owners to claim a new tax deduction as part of an expansive interpretation of who gets the break designed for so-called pass-through businesses.