For most Americans, tax season doesn't start until after the New Year. For Congress, lobbyists and associated interest groups, now is their time. The House and Senate currently are working on a tax break extension package, aiming to pass the renewals on more than 50 issues by year's end.
The Hill reported renewable energy companies could find their breaks phased out or, worse, eliminated altogether. The wind industry already saw its break expire at the end of 2014. The bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee, and introduced by Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, includes extensions for renewable energy production like wind power and biofuels like ethanol, but only through 2016. The Senate bill's renewable energy provision will cost the government $10.492 billion over the next 10 years.
Democrats want to make permanent the current credits for children and earned income, which they say are crucial for working-class families. Republican concern about possible fraud is putting the two factions at loggerheads.
Both Democrats and Republicans are reportedly looking to modify the so-called "Cadillac tax" on premium health insurance plans. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the tax, which won't take effect until 2018, will raise $93 billion for the government. Opponents like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., however, point out the cost of repealing it is in the $700 billion to $800 billion range over 10 years, and no one has any real plan to make up the revenue.
Conundrums like the Cadillac tax bear out the analogy of tax reform as a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces have razor edges. Horse-trading is sometimes literal: The current Senate bill includes a provision regarding the depreciation of racehorses. Consequently, extensions on many breaks are simply renewed for another year or two, putting off further conflict.
The House and Senate have until Dec. 18 to meet their goal of adopting a tax package.