February 7, 2018 / 1:28 AM / 3 months ago

U.S. House Republicans to scrutinize narrow, 'extender' tax breaks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some short-term U.S. tax policies meant mainly to help narrow business interests could be done away with, under plans disclosed on Tuesday by House of Representatives Republicans.

Just weeks after approving a sweeping tax code overhaul, the Republicans said they would examine as many as 35 “tax extender” measures to see if they should remain on the books.

The lawmakers, who control the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said they would hold hearings on the measures, which are sure to be heavily attended by Washington lobbyists.

“The goal is not to get rid of all of them, but probably a lot of them,” Representative Vernon Buchanan, chairman of the Ways and Means tax policy subcommittee, told a news conference.

The tax extenders include tax credits and other breaks that have provided billions of dollars in assistance to alternative energy, nuclear power, biofuels, transportation and economically depressed geographic areas, among other beneficiaries.

The House initiative could clash with the Senate, where Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch has introduced legislation to renew expiring tax extenders and revive some that expired in 2016.

Buchanan said upcoming hearings would allow advocates of the extenders to “defend why it makes sense to go forward with any.”House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady told the news conference: “I’m not a fan of extenders. I think short-term temporary policies are rarely the best.”

“Each of those provisions has an industry that’s tied strongly to it, as well as members of Congress who advocate for it. So that’s why I think having a good thorough review of how those fit in, in a post tax-reform world, is the right way to go about it,” Brady added.

Brady said he had been in contact with Hatch, his Senate counterpart, about the extender issue.

The measures get their name from the fact that they expire periodically and Congress routinely votes to extend them.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter Cooney

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