What does Congress NEED to get done in a lame duck session?  The continuing resolution (CR) Congress passed just before leaving for the campaign trail funds the federal government just through December 11, so Congress will need to extend funding.  That’s clearly a driving force in the lame duck. There are also tax provisions that many would like to see addressed – the CR extended the Internet Tax Freedom Act  just through December 11, and there are a whole host of business and individual tax provisions (including the very popular R&D credit) that expired at the end of 2013 or will expire this December 31.

This spring, the Senate Finance Committee approved the EXPIRE Act, which generally extended provisions through 2015 (one or two years, depending on whether the provision expired in 2013 or expires this year).  Floor consideration of the bill stalled over the amendment process.

The House, meanwhile, has been building from Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s tax reform draft, and has adopted permanent extensions of a number of provisions, such as the R&D Credit and bonus depreciation.  See Chairman Camp’s statement on HR 4, the Jobs for America Act.  Any provisions that are extended permanently will help set a new, more favorable base line for tax reform, if that can move in the next Congress.

Neither the House nor Senate has yet proposed to offset their provisions with revenue raisers.

The outcome of the elections may well affect if and, if so, how Congress addresses expiring tax provisions in the lame duck. The business community has continued to push for action on expiring tax provisions.  IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has been an increasingly public voice on the issue, stating that the tax filing season will have to be delayed if Congress does not act quickly.  Pushing any decision into late December, or even next year, would only make the existing uncertainty worse for both businesses and individuals.