Windfall tax, consumer rebate options under discussion
Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee are discussing ways to tax the excess profits of big oil and gas companies that may be linked to the recent surge in global crude oil prices and use the revenues to provide financial support to affected consumers by rising costs at the pump.
“We’re looking at it right now,” Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told reporters Wednesday, noting he would have more to say after the panel reviews the concept and various proposals in more detail. .
Financial member Sheldon Whitehouse, DR.I., introduced a windfall tax bill that would levy a quarterly tax on big oil companies and distribute the revenue to consumers through a quarterly refund. The tax per barrel would equal half the difference between the average oil price before the pandemic from 2015 to 2019 and current prices.
Whitehouse’s bill has 12 Democratic co-sponsors, including five finance Democrats: Sens. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown from Ohio, Michael Bennet from Colorado, Bob Casey from Pennsylvania and Debbie Stabenow from Michigan. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., introduced a House companion measure (HR 7061) that has 14 Democratic co-sponsors, though none are tax drafters.
“We would like to pass a windfall tax as quickly as possible,” Warren said. “Oil companies need to understand that the benefits of higher prices will be greatly reduced by a tax that is not across the board, but rather a tax on how their profits grow during this short-term crisis.”