Ways and Means Committee to weigh future of extenders

Source: Geof Koss, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2018

House tax writers this week will survey the post-reform landscape for the on-again, off-again debate over temporary tax provisions, also known as extenders.

Just months after passing the first broad tax overhaul in three decades, the House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee on Wednesday will conduct an “evaluation of recently expired tax provisions.”

The committee did not respond to a request for additional information, but the hearing comes as the debate over energy and other breaks continues to simmer.

While reform was supposed to end the need to continually extend incentives for renewables, biofuels and other energy sources, Republicans largely punted that issue to avoid losing GOP votes.

Instead, the GOP struck a deal to extend a series of breaks for biofuels, alternative vehicles and energy efficiency in last month’s budget deal. But that agreement only extended most of the credits retroactively for 2017, meaning they’re already expired (E&E Daily, Feb. 9).

There’s some hope supporters of longer extensions can get another bite at the apple in the omnibus spending bill that’s expected to pass later this month, but deep-seated opposition from House Republicans remains a chief obstacle (E&E Daily, May 1).

In announcing plans for the hearing last month, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told reporters that “clearly I’m not a fan of extenders,” while also acknowledging that each incentive supports an industrial sector that has political backing.

In a statement earlier this month, Brady said the committee will apply a “rigorous test” for whether to continue tax incentives.

“We want to know which provisions are redundant or unnecessary after tax reform, which amplify the growth and competitiveness delivered by our new tax code, and what other provisions stakeholders are willing to give up to preserve a particular provision of interest,” he said.

“Temporary measures that do not satisfy this test after a thorough review should be eliminated so we can further prioritize permanence in policies that will benefit our economy for the long term,” Brady said.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who chairs the Tax Policy Subcommittee, last month said he wants beneficiaries of the incentives to “come in and basically have to defend” why their particular break should be kept alive.

“The goal is to not get rid of all of them but probably a lot of them,” he told reporters.