Featured Articles

Wyden Transportation Mark to Include $9 Billion in Revenue

Posted on June 24, 2014 by Lindsey McPherson

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is planning to release a mark of a six-month surface transportation funding bill on June 24 that will include a handful of tax provisions that together raise about $9 billion, a Senate aide told Tax Analysts June 23.

The revenue measures in the mark are expected to include an extension of the heavy vehicle use tax for vehicles up to 80,000 pounds, a mortgage interest deduction compliance provision that would require additional information reporting from banks but not taxpayers, and a "stretch IRA" provision that would require taxpayers who inherit an IRA to take minimum distributions from the account each year, regardless of age, according to the Senate aide.

Wyden's mark also is expected to include a provision to apply to cases of overstatement of basis the six-year statute of limitations on back taxes that can be assessed if a taxpayer omits substantial information on a return. The provision is expected to be modeled after one that House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp, R-Mich., included in his tax reform discussion draft. Camp proposed applying the six-year statute of limitations to a return on which the taxpayer claims an adjusted basis for any property that is more than 125 percent of the correct adjusted basis. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that provision would raise $1.1 billion over 10 years.

In total, Wyden's mark would raise roughly $10 billion for the Highway Trust Fund, with about $1 billion coming from spending cuts, the aide said. The committee is expected to mark up the measure on June 26.

It's unclear whether the spending cuts will be enough to attract Republicans to support the measure.

Finance Committee ranking minority member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters June 23 that the committee was not close to reaching a bipartisan deal on highway funding because Democrats are unwilling to cut back on spending.

"It looks like it might be a partisan effort," Hatch said. Wyden wants to cooperate, but other Democrats have pressured the chair not to pursue spending cuts, Hatch added. "We'll just have to see how it plays out," he said, adding that Republicans "can't do it without spending cuts."

Wyden, meanwhile, said that Finance Committee staff worked all weekend and that talks on the matter continue.

"What's important is we continue to give members a chance to look at the options," Wyden said. "And there's a variety of interest in how you pay for it in the short term. There is extraordinary interest among members in how you find a way as part of this short-term solution to not be walking down this same patch six months from now."

While Wyden declined to say what options he was pursuing for funding a short-term Highway Trust Fund patch, he reiterated his interest in leveraging private capital as part of a longer-term solution. Wyden said he would know more after talking to members June 24.

Follow Lindsey McPherson (@lindsemcpherson) on Twitter for real-time updates.