Daily Tax Update - June 14, 2016: Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on Energy Tax Policy

Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on Energy Tax Policy:  The Senate Finance Committee heard testimony today on energy tax policy in the first committee hearing on this topic in the 114th Congress.  In his opening statement, Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT)  said he supports an “all-of-the-above approach” to energy policy and is in favor of promoting alternative energy sources, but does not think the cost of existing energy sources should be increased in order to achieve that goal.  Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) urged the extension of tax incentives for renewable energy technologies that were left out of the 2015 tax extenders package.  He also called for a new technology-neutral approach on energy policy that includes just three incentives “built around simple, clear goals – cleaner energy, cleaner transportation, and energy efficiency.” 

The witnesses included:

  • Dr. Benjamin Zycher, American Enterprise Institute
    Testimony
  • Karen Alderman Harbert, United States Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy
    Testimony
  • Steve Miller, Bulk Handling Systems
    Testimony
  • Susan Kennedy, Advanced Microgrid Solutions
    Testimony

IRS Updates Its Policies Regarding Civil Asset Forfeiture Cases:  In a June 10 letter to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, the IRS said it plans to notify individuals whose assets were seized because of suspected financial structuring abuses as far back as October 2009 that they may be able to recover their assets from the government.  These individuals, involved in 700 cases, may then petition the IRS to regain some or all of their assets.  The IRS plans to mail notices in administrative forfeiture cases this week, and civil judicial forfeiture cases by June 17.

House Passes Donor Identity Bill:  Today, the House passed H.R. 5053, the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, that prohibits the IRS from requiring tax-exempt organizations to report the identities of their substantial donors.  The White House expressed its opposition to the bill, asserting it will constrain the IRS’s ability to enforce tax laws and reduce transparency.

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IRS Issues Guidance on Transfers of Property to Regulated Public Utilities:  The IRS recently issued Notice 2016-36 providing a safe harbor under which transfers of property used to facilitate the transmission of electricity over a regulated utility’s transmission system from an electricity generator to the public utility will not be treated as income under section 118.  For more in depth coverage, click here