Alaska Oil Drilling Survives House-Senate Tax Conference
A provision in the Senate Republican tax proposal which would allow oil drilling in areas of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has been included in the House-Senate tax bill that may be voted on by both houses of Congress next week.
The development shouldn’t be a huge surprise since the measure was included in the Senate bill at the request of Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski and Murkowski also sits on the House-Senate conference committee, as does Alaska’s sole representative in the House, Don Young, a Republican. That, and Murkowski’s vote on the tax plan is crucial to its passage in the Senate.
The conference committee revealed the outline of their plan on Wednesday, without publishing all its details, suggesting that the tax code rewrite is still not yet 100-percent completed.
Among the things we do know about the bill is that it would lower the corporate tax rate to 21 percent beginning in 2018 and would shrink the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.
Besides the provision that would allow Arctic refuge drilling, tax breaks for wind energy and electric vehicles also made it into the joint legislation. Members of Congress from states big into wind energy, such as South Dakota, insisted upon it.
But that provision may complicate another aspect of the tax bill, the the base erosion anti-abuse tax, or BEAT, which discourage multinational corporation from keeping money offshore. BEAT erodes the value of wind and solar energy tax credits to renewable investors like Goldman Sachs and Google. The wind and solar lobby wants an exemption from BEAT, but there is no deal yet, according to Bloomberg News.
Another Senate tax provision that helps pipeline companies also survived the cut. Master limited partnerships, or MLPs, are pass-through entities that allow profits from pipelines and other oil and gas projects to be taxed only once.