Senate Finance to consider tax extenders next week

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to consider legislation next Wednesday to revive most of the dozens of temporary tax breaks that expired at the end of last year, according to members of the panel.

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Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) declined to comment on when a mark-up might occur, or about the details of the measure.

Wyden said he and the Finance panel’s top Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), would be able to offer more information about what he expects to be a bipartisan measure by the end of the week.

The Oregon Democrat cast the proposal on the so-called “tax extenders” as a way to give a further jumpstart to the economic recovery.

But Wyden, who has for years shown an interest in broadly revamping the tax code, also said that he wanted the extenders measure to be a springboard for tax reform.

“We both feel strongly about this being the last extenders,” Wyden said about he and Hatch. “I want to be out of the extender business.”

Hatch also declined to delve too deeply into the details of the extenders proposal, but did offer some clues as to what the committee would consider next week.

The Utah Republican said he preferred a two-year extension of expired provisions, and noted that lawmakers had historically not offset the costs of reviving the incentives.

Hatch did say that he thought the bill he was crafting with Wyden would cut about 10 percent of the extenders, though he declined to say whether he was talking about the cost of the measure or the number of provisions.

“If I had my way, it’d cut a lot more,” Hatch said. “But I don’t have my way.”

Extending the full list of more than 50 extenders would cost tens of billions of dollars per year. The list of expired tax breaks includes the research and development tax credit that has wide support on both sides of the aisle, and the production tax credit prized by the wind industry.

Wyden himself has said he’s a big fan of incentives for alternative energy. Other expired tax breaks have their own powerful constituencies, like a preference for mass transit users backed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and a provision dealing with thoroughbred horse racing supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Other expired incentives – like those dealing with NASCAR tracks and Puerto Rican rum – have been derided as corporate pork.

On the other side of the Capitol, House Ways and Means Chairman has said he wants to start extending some of the provisions permanently and tossing others aside, a process he wants to begin in April.