July 17, 2014
Oil and Gas Tax Issues in the Tax Reform Act of 2014 and the
President’s FY2015 Budget Proposal
Overview and Current Law
domestic manufacturers. The deduction is 9% for most
industries, but limited to 6% for the oil and gas sector.
Energy-Specific Tax Expenditures. The Joint Committee
on Taxation (JCT) and the Department of the Treasury have
identified a number of “tax expenditure” provisions that
benefit the oil and gas sector.
Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) Inventory Accounting Methods.
LIFO allows taxpayers to assume that the last item that
entered inventory is the first sold. A higher value of cost of
goods sold reduces taxable income.
Percentage Depletion. Independent producers can recover
costs using percentage depletion instead of cost depletion.
The deduction is generally 15% of gross income, but can be
up to 25% for marginal wells. The deduction is subject to
income and production limitations.
Other Tax Issues. In addition to being able to claim certain
tax expenditures, the oil and gas sector is subject to special
excise taxes. An 8-cent per barrel tax is currently used to
finance the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF). This
tax is set to increase to 9-cents per barrel after 2016, before
expiring at the end of 2017.
Expensing of Intangible Drilling Costs (IDCs). IDCs
include expenses on items without salvage value (e.g.,
wages, fuel, drilling site preparations). Integrated producers
must capitalize and amortize 30% of IDCs over a 5-year
period, while non-integrated producers can fully expense
Amortization of Geological and Geophysical (G&G)
Expenditures. Independent producers can recover G&G
expenditures over an accelerated 2-year period (major
integrated producers must use a 7-year amortization period
to recover G&G costs).
Expensing of Tertiary Injectants. A deduction is allowed for
the cost of tertiary injectants.
Credit for Production from Marginal Wells. A $3 per barrel
or $0.50 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) credit for oil and gas
produced from marginal wells. The credit is phased-out
when oil and gas prices exceed certain thresholds (the credit
has been phased out every year since being enacted).
Credit for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). A 15% credit for
eligible EOR costs. The credit is phased-out for oil prices
above a set threshold.
Passive Loss Limitation Exception for Working Interests in
Oil and Gas. Exception to passive activity loss rules for
working interests in oil or gas property.
Generally Available Tax Expenditures. The oil and gas
sector also benefits from a number of other tax provisions,
where benefits are not restricted to the oil and gas sector.
While there are many of this type of provision, there are a
couple that are of particular interest.
Domestic Production Activities Deduction (Section 199).
Section 199 provides a deduction for income from domestic
production activities to reduce the effective tax rate for
Oil and gas companies that operate overseas would also be
affected by changes in U.S. taxation of multinational
The Tax Reform Act of 2014 (TRA14) and the President’s
FY2015 Budget both propose to repeal a number of oil and
gas related tax provisions, and would make other tax policy
changes that would affect the industry (see Table 1).
A broad goal of tax reform is to eliminate various tax
expenditures and modify other tax code provisions to
generate revenues to allow for reduced tax rates. TRA14
and the President’s Budget would raise additional revenues
from the oil and gas sector. These revenues would offset the
cost of reduced statutory tax rates. Another goal of recent
tax reform proposals, including TRA14, is to better align
cost recovery for tax purposes with economic depreciation
to reduce economic distortions.
The Tax Reform Act of 2014 and the President’s
FY2015 Budget would eliminate various tax provisions
affecting the oil and gas sector in exchange for
statutory rate reduction.
Several oil and gas tax provisions are related to cost
recovery. Both TRA14 and the President’s Budget would
repeal percentage depletion, preventing taxpayers from
recovering more than was invested. Cost depletion, which
closer approximates economic depreciation, would be
allowed. The President’s Budget would also repeal
expensing of IDCs, expensing of tertiary injectants, and the
2-year amortization period for G&G expenditures. TRA14
would not change these cost recovery provisions.
www.crs.gov | 7-5700
Oil and Gas Tax Issues in the Tax Reform Act of 2014 and the President’s FY2015 Budget Proposal
Table 1. Tax Reform Proposals Affecting the Oil and Gas Industry
Sources: The Tax Reform Act of 2014, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and Department of the Treasury.
Both TRA14 and the President’s Budget would repeal the
credit for EOR and the credit for production from marginal
wells. These credits are predicted to be phased-out given
current oil price projections. Thus, repeal of these credits
would not generate revenues in the budget window.
LIFO would be repealed in both TRA14 and the President’s
Budget. Repealing LIFO for corporations could generate
enough revenue to reduce the corporate tax rate by roughly
0.3 percentage points. TRA14 also proposes repealing the
Section 199 deduction for all industries. Repealing the
Section 199 deduction for corporations could pay for
approximately 0.7 percentage points in corporate tax rates.
(For estimates on rate reduction that could be paid for by
eliminating certain tax provisions, see CRS Report
RL34229, Corporate Tax Reform: Issues for Congress, by
Jane G. Gravelle). The President’s Budget would only
repeal Section 199 for fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal),
leaving the deduction in place for other industries.
Before 1996, a 9.7-cents per barrel tax on oil was collected
for the Hazardous Substance Superfund Trust Fund. The
President’s Budget proposes reinstating the Superfund
excise tax on crude oil and imported petroleum products.
The President’s Budget also proposes to modify the rules
and regulations for “dual capacity taxpayers,” or taxpayers
that are subject to a foreign levy but also receive a specific
economic benefit from the foreign entity. The
administration believes that, in certain cases, oil and gas
companies may be claiming foreign tax credits for
payments that are compensation for specific economic
benefits (e.g., access to natural resources). TRA14 would
also change how multinational oil and gas companies are
taxed, as part of a general shift towards a “territorial” tax
system. Part of this reform would include changes to the
foreign tax credit system. TRA14, however, does not make
changes that specifically target dual capacity taxpayers.
Molly F. Sherlock, firstname.lastname@example.org, 7-7797
TRA14 and the President’s Budget would both extend the
oil spill liability trust fund (OSLTF) excise tax beyond
2017. Both also propose modifying the definition of crude
oil to include other sources of crudes (e.g., oil from tar
sands). The President’s FY2015 Budget also proposes a 1cent increase in the tax.
www.crs.gov | 7-5700