Concord Coalition, 11 Other Groups Oppose ‘Zombie’ Tax Break Extensions

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The Concord Coalition today joined 11 other organizations from across the political spectrum in sending a letter to congressional leaders opposing a package of “extenders” — temporary business tax breaks — that expired more than 15 months ago.

“On behalf of our organizations and the broader public interest, we are writing to urge you to ignore calls from special interests to revive these zombie extenders,” the letter says. “Let what is dead remain dead.”

Concord has long opposed these and other extenders, arguing that elected officials should instead focus on reforms to make the tax code simpler, more equitable and more efficient.

As we often note, tax breaks that favor certain taxpayers, industries and activities over others are essentially spending programs but they generally do not receive as much scrutiny as most federal spending.

The past practice of repeatedly extending “temporary” tax breaks year after year has also helped to conceal their true long-term costs.

Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director, signed today’s joint letter to congressional leaders.

“Though our organizations span the political spectrum, we all agree that it is time to stop making tax policy one year at a time,” the letter says. “Bringing back these temporary tax giveaways, particularly on a retroactive basis after most Americans have already filed their taxes, is bad tax, fiscal, and economic policy.”

The letter points out that both parties agreed to end these provisions under the PATH Act of 2015. That legislation made a number of temporary tax provisions permanent, which at least allows their long-term costs to be better taken into account during the congressional budget process.

The 2015 legislation, however, was also supposed to put “an end to the repeated tax extenders exercise,” according to Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican who was then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

“Since that time,” the letter says, “both Democrats and Republicans have called for reducing the number of corporate tax breaks and other carve-outs in the tax code, not expanding them. A good first step would be to not bring back those few tax breaks which are already expired.”

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