Capitol Hill

Different bills, different tax breaks

On April 21, HR 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a 249-183 vote. On June 28, the Senate passed its version of HR 6 by a 85-12 vote. Both bills would provide tax incentives for production of fossil fuels and nuclear energy in the U.S., but the Senate bill would provide more tax breaks for energy conservation and development of alternative energy sources.

The Senate bill contains an $18 billion tax package projected to have a net 11-year cost of $14.05 billion when revenue-raising offsets are included. The bill would create or extend tax breaks for such items as "clean coal" technologies; agri-bio diesel fuel; and electricity produced through wind, biomass and other renewable resources. It also would provide $3.4 billion in tax breaks over five years for the construction of energy-efficient residential property and commercial buildings.

Building deduction

The commercial building tax incentive in the Senate energy bill would provide a tax deduction equal to the "energy-efficient commercial building property expenditures made by the taxpayer" up to a limit of $2.25 per square foot related to the construction or reconstruction of commercial buildings. To qualify for the tax deduction, a building owner must prove a commercial building reduces energy and power costs by 50 percent or more in comparison to the minimum requirements of ASHRAE 90.1-2001, "Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings."