Fiscal Cliff Waste

January 10, 2013

iStock 000008575524XSmall copy 300x245 Fiscal Cliff WasteMany Americans breathed a sigh of relief when Congress passed a bill to extend many of the tax cuts and delay sequestration in order to avoid the fiscal cliff. However, would Americans be quite so satisfied if they realized the wasteful government spending that was included in so-called emergency legislation? Below is a compilation of items to serve as just a sampling of your New Year’s pork.

  1. Tax credit for wind farms (Section 407)
    Cost: $12.2 billion
    Description: Extends the wind production tax credit, also offering the credit to those wind farms at the beginning of energy projects instead of at completion. (See also number 13)
    Source: Bloomberg News
  2. Active financing exception for Wall Street (Section 322)
    Cost: $9 billion per year
    Description: Multinational corporations can use this exception to avoid paying some taxes by creating certain overseas entities, a mechanism known as active financing.
    Source: The Washington Post
  3. New Goldman Sachs offices (Section 328)
    Cost: $1.5 billion
    Description: Initially established to provide tax-exempt financing for rebuilding the World Trade Center area, this provision partially went to fund Goldman Sachs offices. It has been extended.
    Source: The Washington Post; Bloomberg News
  4. Whirlpool Corporation tax credit (Section 409)
    Cost: $650 million
    Description: For producing energy-efficient appliances, Whirlpool receives an extended $650 million tax credit (not nearly as much as the $1.8 billion extended to financial institutions for investing in “low-income areas”).
    Source: Bloomberg News
  5. Extended rum tax (Section 329)
    Cost: $220 million; $547 million in 2009
    Description: Funnels the revenue of the excise tax on rum to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, subsidizing their rum industries.
    Source: ABC News; The Washington Post
  6. Incentives for taking public transportation to work (Section 203)
    Cost: $220 million
    Description: As part of an incentive to have people take public transportation, benefits have been set to an equal level with those for driving. Now employers can cover the same amount toward commuting expenses tax-free whether workers take public transit or drive.
    Source: The Washington Post
  7. Railroad repair (Section 306)
    Cost: $165 million per year
    Description: Railroads can claim tax credits for performing maintenance.
    Source: The Washington Post
  8. Hollywood subsidies (Section 317)
    Cost: $75 million per year
    Description: Provides producers with deductions of $15-20 million for filming in the United States, especially in low-income areas.
    Source: The Washington Post; Naked Capitalism
  9. Help grow algae (Section 404)
    Cost: $59 million
    Description: Algae growers receive tax credits in their quest to turn algae into a biofuel source.
    Source: ABC News; US News
  10. NASCAR racetracks (Section 312)
    Cost: $43 million over the past two years
    Description: Tax benefits for racetracks in order to supposedly even competition with “other amusement parks.”
    Source: The Washington Post; Naked Capitalism
  11. Mine safety (Section 307 and 316)
    Cost: $14 million
    Description: Encourages implementation of commonsense safety measures by mining companies.
    Source: Naked Capitalism; Commercial Appeal
  12. Electric scooters (Section 403)
    Cost: $4-7 million
    Description: Electric vehicle tax credits extended to include electric motorbikes.
    Source: ABC News, The Washington Post
  13. 13. Indian coal: alternative energy? (Section 406)
    Cost: $1 million
    Description: Also see number 1. More specifically, Section 406 subsidizes by $2 per ton coal produced on Indian lands.
    Source: The Washington Post
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