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Post-Election Day, Tax Extenders Will Be a Bipartisan Opportunity

after election tax law issuesAmericans head to the polls on Tuesday for a midterm election that will determine the makeup of the House and Senate. The Washington Post and others are forecasting that Republicans will strengthen their control of the House and gain a majority of seats in the Senate. The White House has already begun contemplating areas of agreement with a future GOP majority. Though Senate movement on passing tax extenders came to a standstill in May, both parties have since shown interest in pushing the issue forward during the lame duck session. There are different theories on how such a deal would come about, but there is no question that extending advanced energy tax credits is both vital to industry and supported by members on each side of the aisle. 

Earlier this month, AEE sent a letter to the leaders of Senate Finance and a separate letter to the leaders of House Ways and Means urging them to make the extension of advanced energy tax credits a top bipartisan priority for the lame duck session. In April, the Senate Finance committee gave bipartisan approval to a package of tax extenders (S. 2260), including the production tax credit (PTC) and others for advanced generation, smart grid technology, energy efficiency, advanced transportation infrastructure, and advanced fuels.

 

In addition to extending these essential tax credits, Congress should also modify the qualification requirement for the investment tax credit (ITC) by allowing projects that commence construction by the end of 2016 to qualify. One major utility-scale solar project was abandoned this month in part due to uncertainty around whether it would be placed in service by the end of 2016 to qualify for the ITC. The same change was already made for the PTC and will provide necessary certainty for American businesses. This extender provision also has bipartisan support in both chambers: Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Dean Heller (R-NV) and Representatives Paul Cook (R-CA-8) and Mike Thompson (D-CA-5) are sponsoring separate bills to replace the 2016 ITC placed-in-service qualification with commenced construction.

Regardless of next week’s election outcome, passing legislation to extend advanced energy tax credits should be a bipartisan priority in the lame duck session. Not only is it an area ripe for agreement, it is also clear that energy is a huge priority for American voters. According to the New York Times, “energy and environment” is the third-most referenced policy issue in the Senate election ads, behind health care and jobs. More than 145,000 ads have been aired on energy and environment topics in House and Senate races across the United States, far outpacing previous election cycles.

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