Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown have a unique opportunity to help protect Ohio taxpayers. As members of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, they will play a crucial role in deciding whether to revive a multibillion-dollar package of special interest tax breaks.
These giveaways, often called “tax extenders” because they extend temporary provisions in the tax code, benefit well-connected companies and industries such as motorsports race tracks, Hollywood movie producers, even beer brewers and winemakers.
These and many other extenders expired at the end of 2017. But if Congress chooses to resurrect them in the coming weeks, they could be applied retroactively, meaning favored companies will be allowed to file additional returns for a tax year that already occurred, in order to claim deductions that didn’t even exist at the time.
That’s a privilege unlikely to be enjoyed by people like you and me. And it makes no economic sense. Supporters try to justify tax extenders by arguing that they incentivize companies to grow and create jobs. But you can’t incentivize something that happened two years ago.
Earlier this year, the Finance Committee announced the creation of six taskforces. Each group was assigned with exploring tax extenders in detail and providing policy recommendations. Both Ohio senators serve on the Employment and Community Development taskforce, with Sen. Portman acting as the co-lead.
As Congress returns to work in September, it has the chance to curb these corporate handouts and unrig an economy that almost two-thirds of Americans believe mainly works to benefit those in power.
As Sen. Brown himself has said, “Hard work doesn’t pay off like it used to, with too many workers trying but struggling to get ahead.”
One reason is that too many of those people doing the hard work are subsidizing those who get favors from Congress. These extenders force ordinary Ohioans to pay for the government to engage in the business of picking winners and losers. Our senators will play integral roles in this discussion, and we urge them and their congressional colleagues of both parties to put our money where their mouths are.
Apart from the unfairness of favoring one company or industry over another, these handouts would come at a time when the corporate world can’t argue that it needs any special favors.
Ohio’s economy is thriving. Thanks in large part to tax reform that was enacted in 2017, American businesses of all sizes are reaping the benefits of an internationally competitive corporate tax rate. Workers are winning too as the economy rides high, with wages rising and jobs being created at a rapid rate. It’s never a good time to have the government picking winners and losers. But right now, not even those who think it is a good idea can justify such favoritism.
Lawmakers handing out breaks to the well-connected rigs the economy against those of us who are not a part of Congress’ chosen few. Every dollar not paid by those getting special treatment is a dollar that every other American will have to make up or, perhaps even worse, a dollar that will be borrowed, meaning our children and grandchildren will end up paying the bill.
If Sens. Portman and Brown are sincerely interested in unrigging the economy and putting corporate welfare on the path to extinction, they should start now. Do not resurrect these tax extenders.
Micah Derry is state director of Americans for Prosperity-Ohio.