Biden tax plan replaces fossil fuel subsidies with incentives for clean energy: U.S. Treasury

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the state of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccinations from the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., April 6, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday released a tax hike plan that would replace subsidies for fossil fuel companies with incentives for production of clean energy.

The proposal is part of wider plan on taxes, which includes boosting the corporate income tax rate from 21% to 28%, linked to Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure package.

A Treasury Department office estimated that eliminating the subsidies for fossil fuel companies would boost government tax receipts by more than $35 billion in the coming decade.

The “Made In America” tax plan did not specify which tax breaks for fossil fuel companies would be targeted. But it said the subsidies undermine long-term energy independence and the fight against climate change and harm air and water quality in U.S. communities, especially in communities of color.

One of the top fossil fuel breaks is called intangible drilling costs, which allows producers to deduct a majority of their costs from drilling new wells. The Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan congressional panel, has estimated that ditching it could generate $13 billion for the public coffers over 10 years.

The plan would advance clean electricity production by providing a 10-year extension of the production tax credit and investment tax credit for clean energy generation, such as wind and solar power, and energy storage such as advanced batteries. It also creates a tax incentive for long-distance transmission lines to ease the movement of electricity from clean energy generators.

The plan would restore a tax on polluters to pay for Environmental Protection Agency costs associated with Superfund toxic waste sites, addressing harm caused by fossil fuel production.

Unwinding tax breaks on fossil fuel companies could face opposition from Biden’s fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate from energy-producing states. The plan is also expected to face resistance from fossil fuel lobbyists who emphasize that clean energy sources also receive substantial taxpayer support.

The Treasury Department confirmed that the Biden plan includes a blender’s tax credit for sustainable aviation fuel, a top priority of U.S airlines, which Treasury said would enable “ the decarbonization of a key portion of the U.S. transportation sector.” The plan also “proposes incentives to encourage people to switch to electric vehicles and efficient electric appliances.” The Treasury has not specified how it would revise or expand existing credits.

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