All stakeholders ‘at the table’ as Ways and Means prepares for tax-extenders hearing

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012

With a bevy of tax provisions — including a wind-energy break — set to expire at year’s end, the House’s top tax writer promised today that all stakeholders would be included as his committee weighs its options.

The Ways and Means Committee’s subpanel on temporary tax measures will convene a hearing next month to consider arguments for and against the variety of “tax extenders” that will disappear in January unless Congress intervenes.

What to do with the extenders is part of a broader tax reform effort House Republicans have been pursuing, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) told a forum convened by the bipartisan Federal Policy Group.

Picking up on an old Washington joke that a stakeholder without a seat at the table is “on the menu,” Camp assured the crowd that “you are all at the table.” However, he noted that every industry would not simply be able to argue for its own priorities if Congress is to truly reform a tax code.

The first stop toward reform is tax extenders, Camp said, although he did not point to specific provisions.

A Ways and Means subcommittee chaired by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) last month began its consideration of more than 100 expiring incentives when it invited House members to argue on behalf of certain credits. The hearing was marked by significant support for the wind production tax credit; industry groups have said failure to immediately extend the credit would cause tens of thousands of jobs to be lost (E&E Daily, April 27).

“If extenders are beneficial and are helping the economy, then they should be seriously considered,” Camp said in his prepared remarks. “On the other hand, if an extender has outlived its value, and if it is not producing the economic benefits it once was, then we need to determine whether there is merit in continuing that provision.”

The PTC, which provides a credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour to wind developers, has been the top priority for the industry throughout the year. Bills to extend it two to four years have broad bipartisan support in both the Senate and House, but getting legislation to the floor has been a challenge amid resistance from some conservative activists and tea party Republicans.

Camp acknowledged that lawmakers have tough choices ahead of them regarding tax extenders and broader reform, but he told the audience today that they were still relatively early in the process.

“I know this may make some people nervous. Don’t be. No decisions have been made,” he said. “And I know there are rumors that Chairman Tiberi and the Select Revenue Subcommittee will be doing more work in this area. Let me put that rumor to rest — they will be. Before any decisions are reached, there will be another hearing, and I expect that will happen early in June.”