Lawmakers eye another end-of-year renewal of tax incentives

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2015 - Key lawmakers are considering renewing dozens of expired tax incentives, including the expanded Section 179 expensing allowance, for this year and extending them through 2016.

Dec. 31 is fast approaching and farmers, implement dealers, biofuel producers and others in agribusiness dependent on various provisions still don't know when valuable tax breaks will be revived. 

“We need to do a two-year type approach, hopefully more,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch told Agri-Pulse. In a separate interview, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden, said,  “It's very important that it be a two-year bill.”

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The tax provisions were renewed for just one year, 2014, right before the end of last year.

The Senate committee overwhelmingly approved a two-year extension (S 1946) of the tax breaks this summer, including incentives for wind power and biofuels, but the full Senate hasn't taken up the legislation. 

“We obviously would like to see some kind of long-term policy but at this point we are urging Congress to enact an extension in line with the Senate package as quickly as possible,” said Ben Evans, a spokesman for the National Biodiesel Board. 

“We believe there is solid bipartisan support to do so in both the House and the Senate.”

The expired extenders include the $1-a-gallon tax credit that subsidizes biodiesel production. Also lapsed are benefits for ethanol infrastructure and cellulosic fuels and the production tax credit for wind power.

 The House has acted to make some of the provisions permanent, including the expanded Section 179 allowance, and Paul Winters of the Biotechnology Industry Organization said House leaders would still like to permanently extend some of the measures. 

“Hatch appears open to doing a few permanents. If there's no agreement between House and Senate, then a one-year deal is the default,” Winters said.

Hatch, R-Utah, said that the legislative path forward on the extenders has been “clouded” by the changeover in House leadership. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, replaced Paul Ryan as House Ways and Means Committee chairman last week after Ryan became speaker. Hatch and Brady have had one meeting since then, but didn't discuss the extenders, Hatch said. 


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“I have to believe that Mr. Brady getting the gavel and settling in as chair will be a boost to the process,” said Dale Moore, executive director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The higher Section 179 allowance would raise the amount a farmer or other business owner may immediately expense from $25,000 to $500,000 annually, indexed for inflation starting this year. The limit on the phase-out of the maximum deductible amount for purchases would be restored to $2 million, also indexed for inflation, up from $200,000.

Also at stake is a 50 percent bonus depreciation provision for the purchase of new capital assets.

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