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Ways & Means chair won’t commit to expanding investment credit

BALTIMORE – House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady yesterday downplayed the prospects for a quick extension of tax breaks for renewable energy sources that did not make it into a broader tax package last year.

“For those who want to make policy changes, there is a regular order process,” Brady told Greenwire at a GOP lawmaker retreat here yesterday.

The Texas Republican did not rule out a package of technical corrections to last year’s tax bill that also lifted a ban on crude oil exports and provided fiscal 2016 spending. He said, though, that it would be narrowly drawn.

Renewable advocates are eager to further expand the 30 percent investment tax credit that was extended for five years in the tax bill.

Last year’s deal only extended the ITC solar credit, leaving out other qualifying sources, including combined heat and power systems, geothermal, small wind, and fuel cells.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said the extension for other renewables was “inadvertently” left out of last year’s tax accord and could be quickly resolved this year.

Brady shrugged off prospects for a quick fix, saying last year’s tax package was “very good” and declined to commit to expanding the ITC in 2016.

He said his top goal for this year will be to “advance international tax reform.” Brady said it might not become law this year, but if the House can get behind a proposal it would be a “down payment” on future tax overhauls.

Brady said to expect a host of hearings this year as well as member briefings on the various proposals for a rewrite of the tax code. “We want to be the most knowledgeable House ever on taxes,” he said.

Brady said part of the message on international tax changes will be that inversions – U.S. firms moving overseas to take advantage of lower tax rates – hurt the economy. He said a noncompetitive tax code is one of the reasons the economy is operating at half speed.