Citing IRS warning, Wyden urges quick lame-duck vote on ‘extenders’

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is calling for Congress to quickly extend dozens of expired tax breaks when it reconvenes next month, citing a letter from the head of the IRS warning that the agency may have to delay processing tax returns if Congress does not act one way or another by December.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen does not take a position on whether the package of tax breaks, collectively known as “tax extenders,” should be extended. But he says that Congress should decide one way or another within a couple of weeks of its scheduled return in November.

The extenders package includes about 50 tax breaks, mostly targeted to businesses including about a dozen aimed at promoting various energy sources, such as the renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC) and a pair of biofuels tax credits. Koskinen’s letter does not address the specific attributes of any particular credit but warns against the consequences of acting too late. If Congress were to wait until next year and then enact retroactive extensions of the credits, the IRS would be faced with likely service disruptions, millions of taxpayers may have to file amended tax returns and refunds would be delayed, he writes.

“I recognize, of course, that it is up to Congress and the Administration to make this important policy decision. Nonetheless, I would appreciate if you would share with your colleagues that it would be detrimental to the entire 2015 tax filing season and to millions of taxpayers if Congress fails to provide a clear policy direction before the end of November,” Koskinen writes.

An extenders bill, S. 2260, won bipartisan support from the Finance Committee this spring before its progress stalled on the Senate floor amid a broader partisan, procedural fight that stymied most legislation in the upper chamber this year. Wyden and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the committee’s ranking member, have both called for Congress to pass the bill during its lame-duck session, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 12.

“As the economy begins to show signs of strength, uncertainty from the federal tax code is the last thing American businesses and families need as they look to grow and invest,” Wyden said in a statement today. “Congress needs to act swiftly on these important tax provisions so it can get to work on a comprehensive overhaul of the tax code and lift the fog of uncertainty from taxpayers.”