Hopes for a year-end tax extenders package appear to be dwindling on Capitol Hill.
Tax Extenders Need a Legislative Vehicle
Over 30 expired or soon-to-be expired tax breaks known as tax extenders were originally considered a top contender for hitching a ride on a larger, must-pass government funding bill. Considering the lack of time left on the legislative calendar this year, a stand-alone tax bill has been considered an unlikely initiative. Thus, a must-pass appropriations bill was seen by several lawmakers as the likely legislative vehicle for tax extenders and other tax items such as technical corrections to Republicans’ 2017 tax reform law.
However, a spokesperson for Senate Finance Committee (SFC) Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, confirmed to Wolters Kluwer on October 28 that Grassley believes there is “no hope” for action this year on a tax extenders package if lawmakers do not move quickly with respect to its legislative driver. Many within the practitioner community following these developments have said that the chances of providing taxpayers with certain tax breaks retroactively significantly decrease if Congress moves into next year leaving them expired.
Another Stopgap Spending Bill Appears Likely
Currently, the federal government is operating on a stopgap spending bill temporarily extending fiscal year (FY) 2019 funding levels through November 21. Previously, several lawmakers, in particular Grassley, had hoped that a tax extenders package would be attached to a larger, more comprehensive appropriations bill next month. However, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters that another short-term stopgap spending bill is the more likely option to keep the government open after November 21. “Unless a miracle happens around here with the House and Senate, we will have to put forth another [continuing resolution] CR,” Shelby told reporters.
Notably, another short-term government funding bill is considered unlikely to have any policy riders. Generally, stop gap spending bills are usually considered “clean,” for the most part. Also playing a role in tax extenders’ fate is whether President Trump would sign a more comprehensive appropriations bill. At this time, his support for a larger FY 2020 funding bill, apart from tax policy reasons, remains unclear.