The Biden administration earlier this year released a summary of its plans to invest in infrastructure, which included “direct-pay” options for the investment tax credit (ITC) and production tax credit (PTC) for clean energy generation and storage, as well as the Section 45Q credit for carbon capture and sequestration. The administration subsequently released the Green Book, its general explanations of the budget proposals for the fiscal year 2022, which contained more detailed information about the administration’s tax proposals but did not elaborate on the direct-pay options for the ITC, PTC, and Section 45Q credit. Congress has now passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution, with proposed budget reconciliation legislation expected to include clean energy incentives. The applicable House and Senate committees will begin drafting the legislation later this month. In the absence of a draft budget reconciliation bill providing details on a direct-pay option, recent legislative proposals introduced in the current Congress can serve as helpful guideposts for considering how the direct-pay option will be structured.
The recent proposals are consistent in many respects. All provide that the taxpayer may elect to be treated as if it has made a payment against income tax for the taxable year, thus making the taxpayer eligible for a refund of such payment if it exceeds its tax liability. The credit for which the taxpayer would otherwise be eligible is reduced, preventing a double benefit. Any payment received is excluded from gross income. Each proposal also provides that the Treasury secretary will determine the manner of making the election. However, the similarities generally end there. Below is a discussion of open questions based on the key variations between the recent proposals. Continue Reading Direct-Pay Options: A Review of Recent Legislative Proposals