On February 28, Senate Finance Committee leaders introduced legislation to retroactively extend tax provisions that expired at the end of 2017 and 2018 and provide disaster tax relief benefits to individuals and businesses affected by major disasters occurring in 2018.
The measure, introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), would extend some 29 expired tax provisions through the end of 2019 at their current levels. These temporary tax provisions are generally referred to as “extenders” because they are routinely extended by Congress on a one- or two-year basis. Twenty-six of these provisions expired at the end of 2017, and three others expired at the end of 2018.
While in the past many lawmakers have indicated that they would like to get rid of some of the extenders and make others permanent, their indecision has allowed a timely renewal to fall by the wayside. Co-sponsor of the bill Grassley commented, “Congress needs to get out of this bad habit of regular retroactive extensions of these tax provisions….The whole point of these federal tax incentives is to encourage certain behaviors, especially investments in alternative energies, energy efficiency and transportation.” Co-sponsor Wyden commented, “It’s past time to kick the addiction to short-term tax policies, but until Congress is able to break this cycle for good, taxpayers deserve certainty about what they’ll owe,” Wyden said.
However, some House members have shown less interest in quickly advancing a renewal of the tax provisions. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass said he wants to take time to examine each provision and plans to hold hearings on tax extenders sometime in March.
The following provisions that expired at the end of 2017 would be extended through 2019:
…the nonbusiness energy property credit;
…the qualified fuel cell motor vehicle credit;
…the alternative fuel refueling property credit;
…the 2-wheeled plug-in electric vehicle credit;
…the second generation biofuel producer credit;
…the biodiesel and renewable diesel incentives;
…the credit for electricity produced from certain renewable resources;
…the production credit for Indian coal facilities;
…the railroad track maintenance credit;
…the energy efficient homes credit;
…the classification of certain race horses as 3-year property;
…the special allowance for second generation biofuel plant property;
…the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction;
…the election to expense advanced mine safety equipment;
…the extension of the special rule for sales or dispositions to implement FERC or State electric restructuring policy for qualified electric utilities;
…the extension and clarification of excise tax credits relating to alternative fuels;
…the 7-year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complexes;
…the accelerated depreciation for business property on Indian reservation;
…the expensing rules for certain productions;
…the Indian employment credit;
…the mine rescue team training credit;
…the exclusion from gross income of discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness;
…the treatment of mortgage insurance premiums as qualified residence interest;
…the deduction of qualified tuition and related expenses;
…the extension of empowerment zone tax incentives; and
…the American Samoa economic development credit.
The following provisions that expired at the end of 2018 would be extended through 2019:
…the temporary reduction in medical expense deduction floor;
…the extension of oil spill liability trust fund rate; and
…the black lung liability trust fund excise tax.
The disaster tax relief provisions in the bill include special rules allowing access to retirement funds, an employee retention credit, suspension of limits on deductions for certain charitable contributions, liberal rules for deductions for disaster-related personal casualty losses, and special rules for measurement of earned income for purposes of qualifying for tax credits.