Director of Federal Tax Policy
House Republicans are putting before the House this week a campaign-oriented bill of wide-ranging measures that have previously passed the House, including repealing portions of the Affordable Care Act and scaling back Dodd-Frank regulations. The bill, which won’t advance beyond the House due to obvious Senate and White House opposition, also includes business tax provisions that lawmakers will likely consider again during Congress’ post-election lame duck session this fall. For that reason alone, the legislation warrants some attention.
The House bill would make permanent certain “ tax extenders ” — so named because Congress routinely extends them for a year or two at a time — as well as bonus depreciation, which lets businesses take larger upfront tax deductions for certain purchases, such as machinery and equipment, and that historically has been a temporary measure to help revive a weak economy. Congress should reject the House approach to these provisions because it is not fiscally responsible, is poorly designed from an economic standpoint, and is antithetical to tax reform. Moreover, it reflects seriously misplaced priorities, putting the permanent extension of these business provisions ahead of more pressing provisions for hard-working families.
If, during the lame duck session, policymakers consider making any tax extenders permanent, they should focus first on making permanent important provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) that are due to expire at the end of 2017. Failure to make the EITC and CTC provisions permanent would have a significant impact on low- and moderate-income families, pushing 17 million people (including 8 million children) into — or deeper into — poverty.