Renewable Energy, Hollywood Among Big Winners of ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal

There is more to the “fiscal cliff” deal than the breaking of Grover Norquist’s iron grip on the GOP through his insane no-tax pledge, as congressional Republicans voted for higher taxes on the wealthy for the first time in 20 years.

But enough about fiscal cliff losers like Norquist; the American Taxpayers Relief Act of 2012, which passed with the votes of 85 House Republicans and 40 Senate Republicans, helps boost biofuels and other domestic industries. Tax breaks for renewable energy, railroads, Hollywood and other American industries benefited from the new law.

Let’s take a look at some of the big winners.

Photo credit: NHD-INFO via Flickr
Renewable Energy

In a video message to supporters shortly after the passage of the bill, President Obama stated that addressing climate change and reducing dependence on foreign oil via clean, domestic energy is one of his top second-term priorities, along with ending the war in Afghanistan, immigration reform, gun control, and education reform.

The fiscal cliff deal begins to realize Obama’s goal of clean, domestic energy and energy efficiency by:

Extending the wind power production tax credit for one year, saving 37,000 wind energy jobs.
Reinstating the biodiesel tax incentive, supporting 112,078 jobs in the biofuels industry.
• Extending the Research & Experimentation Tax Credit.
• Allowing geothermal, biomass, and hydropower to use the 30 percent investment tax credit the solar industry has taken advantage of.
• Extending tax incentives for energy-efficient homes and appliances.
• Expanding a tax credit for plug-in electric vehicles to include electric motorcycles.

Photo credit: Devin Wray/U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons

Variety is reporting that the fiscal cliff deal includes an extension of a tax provision designed to boost domestic film and TV production. Tax code Section 181 permits productions to deduct the first $15 million of costs if 75 percent of the expenditures occur in the United States. Producers can write off the expenses in the year they occur.

The Hollywood tax breaks were originally part of the American Jobs Act of 2004, and were passed to try to stem the flow of TV and film productions to Canada and other foreign countries with more generous tax incentives.

Additionally, the extension keeps in place incentives for productions to film in low-income neighborhoods.

In a statement, the MPAA said “a strong American film industry contributes to a strong American economy.”

Photo credit: Zuckermanpig via Wikimedia Commons

The deal extends the Railroad Track Maintenance Credit for one year, incentivizing short-line railroad track maintenance and repair investments. The extension will continue work on upgrading and preserving the short-line railroad tracks for the more than 500 short-line railroad carriers in the U.S. who serve more than 11,000 shippers in the first and last mile.

Photo credit: Tomasz Sienicki via Wikimedia Commons
Public Transit

Public transit riders were big winners as well, as the fiscal cliff deal included a provision that puts public transportation tax benefits on par with car commuters by upping to $240 a month the transportation costs bus and rail riders can claim. The provision is expected to provide transit riders with up to $190 million a year in incentives.

 Photo credit: Travis Ruse via Wikimedia Commons

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