Nothing New Under the Sun: The Sad History of the Tax Extenders.

By :: July 16th, 2014

Nice piece by Tax Notes reporter Lindsey McPherson describing the recent history of the tax extenders. Four take-aways:  There is always last-minute drama over bringing them back, most are repeatedly extended, they are almost never paid for, and they are frequently rolled into a bigger bill.

In 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012 the subsidies were not extended until October or later. Of the 55 expired provisions currently being debated, 39 have been have been renewed at least three times. Congress has never fully paid to extend (or restore) the tax breaks: There were no offsets at all in 2004, 2006, and 2010, and only partial offsets in 2008. The American Tax Relief Act (ATRA) of 2012 did include some revenue raisers, but they were supposed to pay for delaying sequestration not for the tax cuts.

In sum, if the current debate over the expired tax provisions seems familiar, that’s because it is.

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    I don’t think they will ever be paid for. Making them permanent simply means they won’t be used to shake down affected parties. Now that would be refreshing. If taxes need to go up (and they still do, especially on the wealthy) raise them. As for these provisions, they are in the limbo of being both in the status quo and requiring continuing reauthorization. The real takeway is that this is what most tax expenditures would look like if subjected to an annual renewel process. Messing up the planning of sectors of the business community is one thing. Messing up the tax planning of the every household is quite another. We shall hopefully stay away from such lunacy that is only good in the minds of MacGuiness, Peterson, Simpson and Bowles.

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