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Rep. Levin Could Punt Energy Bill to September

Jay Heflin
July 20, 2010
The Hill

House Ways and Means Chairman Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) is unlikely to mark up a green energy jobs bill before the August recess, sources told The Hill.

Democrats on the tax-writing committee are apparently apprehensive about moving forward on a bill that increases taxes right before they leave town to campaign for reelection.

Levin is expected to release an official draft of the legislation before leaving town.

“I will release a Chairman’s discussion draft with legislative language in the next few days,” he said in prepared remarks. “I will also continue discussions with the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee regarding this legislation.”

 The draft is not expected to include how the legislation will be paid for.

An unofficial draft of the legislation surfaced last week that also did not include offsets. The $22 billion proposal extends through 2014 the Section 48C manufacturing tax credit for investing in renewable energy.

The tax credit was created in the 2009 stimulus bill and has been touted by President Obama as being instrumental in helping companies become energy efficient. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates the extension will cost approximately $6.9 billion.

It also expected to extend the ethanol tax credit for one year, but at a reduced rate, from 45 cents to 36 cents per gallon, costing about $3.8 billion, according to the JCT.

Levin originally wanted to pay for the bill by repealing tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. But Senate resistance to using those provisions has apparently forced him to look elsewhere for offsets, and several sources have told The Hill that he could rescind tax breaks on U.S. multinational companies.

On Monday, four organizations urged Levin to close the loophole allowing multinationals to invert, which basically allows businesses to maintain operations domestically while setting up its headquarters in a low-tax jurisdiction.

 “Right now remaining loopholes within our law permits profitable companies to legally skip out on their taxes and shift their tax burden to taxpayers and responsible businesses already facing tough times in this economy,” their letter states, adding, “As you and your committee consider the tax provisions of impending energy legislation, we, the undersigned organizations, support closing the loophole that enables companies to simply change their address to avoid paying U.S. taxes.” 

The letter was signed by leaders from U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Citizens for Tax Justice, the Tax Justice Network USA, and Global Financial Integrity.