Energy Tax Policy: Issues in the 112th Congress [March 28, 2012]   [open pdf - 401KB]

"Energy tax policy has been actively debated in the 112th Congress. Much of this debate has centered around proposals in the President's FY2012 and FY2013 budgets, proposals to eliminate certain tax preferences, and proposals to extend other expired or expiring provisions. The Obama Administration has proposed a number of changes in energy tax policy with the intent of correcting perceived distortions in the market and encouraging conservation and the use of renewable energy. Specifically, the Administration seeks to eliminate a number of existing tax incentives for fossil fuels. Further, the Administration has proposed expanding select incentives for commercial-building energy efficiency, extending incentives to promote manufacturing of advanced energy technologies, extending certain renewable energy incentives, and modifying incentives for alternative technology vehicles. […] Energy tax policy involves the use of one of the government's main fiscal instruments, taxes (both as an incentive and as a disincentive) to alter the allocation or configuration of energy resources and their use. In theory, energy taxes and subsidies, like tax policy instruments in general, are intended either to correct a problem or distortion in the energy markets or to achieve some economic (efficiency, equity, or even macroeconomic) objective. In practice, however, energy tax policy in the United States is made in a political setting, determined by fiscal dictates and the views and interests of the key players in this setting, including policymakers, special interest groups, and academic scholars. As a result, enacted tax policy embodies compromises between economic and political goals, which could either mitigate or compound existing distortions."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R41769
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