Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. (Photo: AP) Sen. Ron Wyden, the committee’s top Democrat, says the bill includes renewable energy incentives he’s “proud to fight for.” (Photo: AP)

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced legislation to retroactively extend through this year tax provisions that expired at the end of 2017 and 2018 — including mortgage insurance premiums treated as qualified residence interest and the above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses.

Grassley and Wyden’s bill, the Tax Extenders and Disaster Relief Act of 2019, extends credits at their current level for 2018 and 2019 and also includes disaster tax relief benefits to individuals and businesses affected by major disasters occurring in 2018.

There are 26 provisions that expired at the end of 2017 and three that expired at the end of 2018.

“Congress needs to get out of this bad habit of regular retroactive extensions of these tax provisions,” Grassley said in a statement. “The whole point of these federal tax incentives is to encourage certain behaviors, especially investments in alternative energies, energy efficiency and transportation. The best way to do that is ahead of time, not retroactively,”

Grassley added that he hopes the House “acts soon since taxpayers affected by these expired provisions have to file their tax returns in the coming weeks. Thousands of jobs across the country depend on it.”

“It’s past time to kick the addiction to short-term tax policies, but until Congress is able to break this cycle for good, taxpayers deserve certainty about what they’ll owe,” Wyden added. “It’s important this is a two-year bill covering 2019, and it includes key renewable energy incentives I’m proud to fight for. Filing season for 2018 is already underway, so the Congress should act on this quickly.”

The mortgage provision provides for the treatment of qualified mortgage insurance premiums as interest for purposes of the mortgage interest deduction through 2019. This deduction phases out for taxpayers with adjusted gross income over $100,000 ($50,000 if married filing separately).

The bill provides through 2019 for an above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses for higher education. The deduction is capped at $4,000 for an individual whose AGI does not exceed $65,000 ($130,000 for joint filers) or $2,000 for an individual whose AGI does not exceed $80,000 ($160,000 for joint filers).

Empowerment zone tax incentives are also included, with the bill providing through 2019 tax benefits for certain businesses and employers operating in empowerment zones. There are 40 specifically designated geographic areas designated as empowerment zones. The tax benefits available include tax-exempt bond financing, a federal income tax credit for employers who hire qualifying employees, accelerated depreciation deductions on qualifying equipment under section 179, and deferral of capital gains tax on the sale of qualified assets sold and replaced.

— Check out 6 Top Tax Issues for Investors: Andy Friedman on ThinkAdvisor.