WASHINGTON — A bipartisan Senate package to revive dozens of expiring or expired tax breaks, including several municipal bond provisions, would cost $205.1 billion over 10 years, according to an analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation.
The Senate Finance Committee marked up the measure, the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012, on Thursday. The proposal was crafted by committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in a rare sign of bipartisanship.
"By working together here today, we're proving we still have the capacity to do what our bosses — the American people — sent us here to do: to get things done," Baucus said in a news release.
The tax-extenders package allows nearly 25% of the provisions to expire by the end of 2012, but that didn't go far enough for some committee members. Hatch said he would like to see more tax extenders dropped.
"I am hopeful that where the committee lands today is just a starting point and that the list of dropped extenders will only grow as we move on to the next stages in the legislative process," he said in a release. "On a very limited basis, it is a dry run for the fundamental tax reform that we all know must come, and will come, in the near future. Today, we will see just how difficult it is to have even a limited reform exercise."
Under the agreement, the remaining tax provisions would be extended through 2013 and the "patch" for the alternative minimum tax would be extended through 2012. Currently, private-activity bonds are subject to the alternative minimum tax.
A one-year extension of the state and local sales tax deduction would cost $4.6 billion over 10 years, the JCT report found. The sales tax deduction was first established in 2004 and has been frequently renewed on a temporary basis. It expired at the end of 2011.
The measure would also extend the qualified zone academy bond program with a $400 million annual allocation. The QZAB program began in 1997 and permits the bonds to be used for school rehabilitation. It received a $1.4 billion allocation under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and then another $400 million under the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010.
QZABs are taxable. Tax-credit bonds allow bondholders to receive tax credits. Direct-pay bonds require the Treasury Department to provide issuers with periodic subsidy payments.
The tax package also extended New York Liberty Zone bonds. They were created as part of the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 to finance construction costs of non-residential and residential rental properties in New York in the wake of the terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center.
Chuck Samuels, a partner at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC, who represents the National Association of Health and Higher Education Facilities Authorities, said lawmakers kept the package narrow and stuck to traditional extenders and not temporary items found in the ARRA, such as the bank-qualified bond provision.
That provision allowed banks for one year to deduct 80% of the cost of buying and carrying tax-exempt bonds sold by issuers whose annual issuance was $30 million or less, up from $10 million.
"It's certainly helpful they included some provisions, but its unfortunate that a provision that could really help small governments and nonprofits wasn't included," Samuels said.