On December 3, 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) (HR 22). The vote in the House was 359 to 65, and the vote in the Senate was 83 to 16. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., noted that the bill was the first long-term transportation legislation in a decade. The President is expected to sign the legislation.
The main thrust of the legislation is to provide $305 billion for highways and mass transit over the next five years. The legislation maintains the current level of the gasoline excise tax, and relies on revenue sources that are not transportation related for the remainder of its funding. Although most of the revenue offsets are not tax related, tax provisions included in the legislation authorize the IRS to utilize private debt collectors to collect bad tax debts, authority the IRS did not seek. The IRS had first started using private collectors in 2006 but abandoned the program in 2009, due in part to taxpayer complaints. The provision is estimated to raise $2.4 billion over 10 years.
The legislation also includes a provision permitting the State Department to revoke passports of individuals with more than $50,000 of delinquent tax debt. That provision is expected to bring in $398 million over 10 years. Other tax provisions create an IRS special compliance personnel program and repeal a provision enacted earlier in the year modifying the due date for returns of certain employee benefit plans.
By Jeff Carlson, Wolters Kluwer News Staff, and Mark Alan Luscombe, Principal Analyst