| April 1
April 1 An annual fight in the U.S. Congress
over renewing scores of temporary tax breaks - including the
corporate research tax credit and individual deductions for
teachers' supplies and college tuition costs - got under way on
In the Senate, the new chairman of the tax-writing Finance
Committee unveiled legislation that would modestly trim the list
of about 55 laws known as the "tax extenders" because they
expire every year or two and need to be regularly extended.
Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who recently took over
the committee, scheduled a review-and-amendment session for
Thursday on the bipartisan bill that he is offering along with
Utah's Orrin Hatch, the committee's top Republican member.
"This pared-back bill demonstrates to the American people
that Congress can and will make the tough decisions needed to
help clean up our broken tax code," Hatch said in a statement.
Whether Congress can do that remains to be seen, with
analysts expecting no conclusive action on tax extenders until
after the November mid-term congressional elections and the
likelihood of comprehensive tax reform even more remote.
The extenders list is chock-full of special tax breaks for
businesses. Fighting to preserve them keeps hundreds of
corporate tax lobbyists busy across Washington, D.C.
A study by a left-leaning tax activist group on Monday said
that General Electric Corp alone employed 48 lobbyists
from January 2011 through September 2013 to work on the tax
extenders, in general, and one of them, in particular - a
provision that lets multinationals shelter offshore financial
income from U.S. corporate income tax.
Citigroup employed 29 lobbyists over the same period
for the same purposes, said the report from Americans for Tax
Fairness, which is backed by unions and progressive groups.
A GE spokesman said on Monday the Americans for Tax Fairness
report distorted the facts and was "politically motivated."
The Wyden-Hatch legislation preserves the tax law - known as
the active financing exception - that so keenly concerns GE,
Citigroup and many other financial institutions, but the bill
drops a handful of other provisions.
Among these are tax breaks for wind energy production and
auto racing tracks, though these could be added back through the
amendment process, which is set to get under way on Thursday.
Most of the tax extenders technically expired at the end of
2013, leaving companies that depend on them in limbo. But this
happens regularly and the provisions are routinely approved on a
retroactive basis, a situation that Wyden wants to end.
"I am determined this will be the last extenders bill on my
watch," he said in a statement.
(Editing by Andrew Hay)