Zombie marshmallows (Photo: Thinkstock) (Image: Thinkstock)

A diverse group of public policy think tanks descended on Capitol Hill Friday to voice their opposition to the recent package of tax extender bills approved by the House Ways & Means Committee.

The package — which would renew what the group calls “zombie extenders” — was approved by Ways & Means on June 20 and would revive and extend through 2020 several tax breaks that expired in 2017 or 2018 and are set to expire this year.

The extender bills include:

H.R. 3298, The Child Care Quality and Access Act of 2019; H.R. 3299, The Promoting Respect for Individuals’ Dignity and Equality (PRIDE) Act of 2019; H.R. 3300, The Economic Mobility Act of 2019; H.R. 3301, The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019.

Panelists at the event, held by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, all agreed that the extenders should not be renewed.

Mark Goldwin, senior vice president and senior policy director at the Committee, said that the zombie extenders “have been dead for over a year and a half, but they keep wanting to come back from the grave. … Folks still want to bring them back, and bring them back retroactively.”

Fortunately, he continued “groups from the left, right and center came together and said ‘enough is enough’” and “agreed it makes no sense to pass tax policy two years at a time, retroactively, for special interest tax breaks that just keep adding to the deficit.”

Because only one of the bills was offset, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the extenders package would add $150 billion to the debt over 10 years with interest, and $710 billion over 10 years if the temporary policies were permanently extended.

The Committee added that during markup, an amendment adding a temporary increase in the child tax credit for young children added $30 billion to the bill’s price tag; This change pushed the cost for the permanent version of the package to about $910 billion over 10 years including interest.

HR 3301 includes a provision to reverse the 2017 tax law’s estate tax exemption increase three years earlier than scheduled. That one offset only raises $38 billion over 10 years, the committee said, “while the remainder of the bill costs more than four times that, mostly over the first two years.”

Ben Ritz of the Progressive Policy Institute said at the event that tax extenders “are very in the weeds, they’re complicated, they’re not particularly fair — they favor special interests over others — and they’re another unpaid-for tax cut.”

Adam Michel of the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation maintained that tax extenders “aren’t just bad tax policy, they’re bad budget policy and bad economic policy. We’ve heard about how bad retroactive tax extenders are, but even if they’re not retroactive, the temporary nature of these incentives is also cutting against their intentions.”

— Check out Senators Rethink Short-Term Tax Extenders on ThinkAdvisor.