In typical fashion, the tax extenders have been attached to some “must-pass” piece of legislation to ease their path into law. This time it’s the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which would fund the government through March 23, lift the debt ceiling for a year, and provide billions of dollars in disaster appropriations, among other things – see our statement.
Here are some quick notes on what’s in, what’s out, and what’s changed from Sen. Hatch’s bill, S. 2256:
- All of the provisions listed below made it into the new version with one (and a half) exceptions – the “Qualified Zone Academy Zones” provision was ditched. See geothermal blurb below for the half.
- The biggest change from the last extenders package is a reduction in the term of the extension for most of the provisions, from two years (2017 and 2018) to just one, through 2017. A purely retroactive extension means the tax breaks couldn’t possibly attain their purported goal, to stimulate certain economic behavior. Because…you can’t change the past.
- The big winners:
- Biodiesel/renewable diesel interests: they receive credits that will reduce their 2017 tax bill (or increase their refund) by $3.3 billion.
- The nuclear industry: the 2005 nuclear production tax credit was “modified,” so that the 2021 deadline to qualify is eliminated. Also, entities that don’t pay federal tax can now claim it, then give it to taxpaying partners. Specific winner: Vogtle owners. Total cost: $6 billion.
- “Beautiful clean coal:” after years of trying (see H.R. 4622, S. 3179, S. 1535, etc.), carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) backers have gotten an extension and expansion of the 45Q tax credit. The credit for capturing and sequestering a metric ton of carbon will ramp up from $20 to $50 by 2027; the credit for capturing a ton then using it for oil recovery or something else ramps up from $10 to $35. Ten year cost: $690 million. Long-term cost: $BILLIONS
- Bad news for geothermal energy? A number of energy interests, like fiber-optic solar, geothermal pumps, and small wind that were complaining they were “mistakenly” left out of the 2015 extenders deal have gotten their investment tax credit (ITC) extension through 2021. Cost of ITC extension altogether: $1.3 billion
The one difference from Hatch’s bill: instead of increasing the ITC for geothermal electricity generation from 10% to 30% and then phasing it out, the new bill maintains geothermal’s permanent 10% ITC.
- Also new, the increase on the limitation for “cover over” (payments) to Puerto Rico from rum excise taxes is extended through 2022, rather than just through 2019. Estimated cost: $676 million
(Original post – 1/11/2018:)
On December 20, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the “Tax Extenders Act of 2017.” Congress passed similar bills in 2015, 2014, 2013, in 2009 as part of the stimulus, in 2008 attached to the bank bailout, and in prior years. Congress extended the expiration dates for the assorted group of tax provisions, known as “tax extenders,” for only a year or two with the purported intent of determining the provisions’ long-term fate in any subsequent comprehensive tax overhaul.
The Tax Reform passed by Congress and signed by the president in December 2017 was billed as a comprehensive tax overhaul, and is certainly the most sweeping change to the tax code in roughly 30 years. There should now be no need to extend any expiring tax provision. If a provision wasn’t extended in the tax reform bill, Congress has already determined that provision’s long-term fate. Yet on the same day that tax reform was passed, the Tax Extenders Act of 2017 was introduced. The composition of this year’s extenders package differs from previous years, in part because of the tax bill, but also because major expansions for a couple tax credits were uncharacteristically included. A full list of what’s in this year’s bill is provided below.
For TCS’ take on tax extenders, see:
Descriptions of some of the provisions also in previous extenders packages can be found here: