Congress

Grassley, Wyden want to end uncertainty over temporary tax breaks

Five task forces charged with coming up with solutions for so-called tax extenders

Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, right, and ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are seen at a hearing in February. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley announced the creation of five task forces charged with delving into what to do about 42 myriad tax breaks that continually get turned on and off by Congress, ranging from an incentive to sell cleaner-burning biodiesel fuel for trucks to a deduction for mortgage insurance premiums.

The joint announcement by the Iowa Republican and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, the committee’s ranking member, comes 16 and a half months after 26 tax “extenders” expired at the end of 2017. Grassley said the task force is charged with coming up with solutions by the end of June, including whether to consolidate or change certain provisions, make them permanent or allow them to lapse.

“It’s past time for Congress to end its bad habit of waiting until the last minute to extend temporary tax policy,” Grassley said. “This type of tax policy is meant to encourage long-term growth and investment. By definition, that must be done deliberately and ahead of time to be successful.”

Grassley and Wyden have urged the House Ways and Means Committee, where tax legislation must originate, to move an extenders package.

But Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal has been lukewarm in his responses, suggesting tax extenders should be part of a more comprehensive tax package. The Massachusetts Democrat has suggested including an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit in a House tax bill, and paying for part of a package by eliminating the preferential tax treatment of investment fund managers’ share of profits on their clients’ capital gains, known as “carried interest.”

Neal’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The task forces will look at 26 tax breaks that expired at the end of 2017, three that expired at the end of 2018 and 13 that are set to expire at the end of this year.

The tax provisions are divvied up among the following task forces: Employment & Community Development, Health, Energy, Cost Recovery, and Individual, Excise & Other Expiring Policies. A sixth task force is being created to investigate putting together a “core package” of disaster-related tax provisions.

Also watch: Grassley — Congress has given too much trade authority to the president

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