Tax Policy Update: January 22, 2014

 
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Number of the Week: $104 million. The estimated amount of legal wagers placed at Nevada casinos on the outcome of Super Bowl XLVIII, pitting the Seattle Seahawks against the Denver Broncos on Feb. 2 in East Rutherford, NJ. Last year, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported a record high of $98.9 million in Super Bowl bets. Just remember, winning bets are taxable.

LEGISLATIVE LANDSCAPE

The Senate: Could Tax Extenders Be Resurrected Before Easter? The Senate and the House of Representatives are on recess until next week, which gives us an extra week to speculate about what they might do when they return.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is likely only weeks away from officially taking the helm of the Senate Finance Committee, depending on how quickly the Senate proceeds to the confirmation of current chair Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to become the next ambassador to China.

Wyden is reportedly anxious to address the 50-plus expired tax provisions that are currently in extension limbo. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-NY, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters last week that Wyden's first priority is to address tax extenders -- hinting that he may push for an extenders package that includes all the currently expired provisions, including bonus depreciation, the R&D tax credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, among others. Wyden has been very vocal about his support for currently expired energy-related tax provisions, including the production tax credit for renewable electricity and the renewable energy investment tax credit.

But can Wyden get an extenders package through the Senate, not to mention the House? Many of the provisions have bipartisan support, but senators facing tough elections this year and budget hawks will resist passing the tax cuts without paying for them, as they've traditionally done in the past. With a price tag upwards of $54 billion for a one-year extension, the battle over extenders will put Wyden's negotiating mettle to the test right out of the gate.

Senators Eyeing Open Finance Seat. Baucus's departure from the Senate and Wyden's move to the head of the dais leaves an open seat for an ambitious Democrat looking to make an impact on tax, health care, and trade policies. Senators Mark Warner, D-Va., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., are reportedly vying for the seat. Warner would bring a "blue dog" sensibility to the panel, not unlike Baucus's conservative leanings...

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