The financial rescue plan approved by Congress included many extensions of expiring tax credits and deductions that helped it win passage in the House, but it also left out some tax issues that will surely be bones of contention for the next Congress."It's safe to predict that not much will happen in a lame duck session," said Tom Ochsenschlager, vice president of taxation at the American Institute of CPAs.
Ochsenschlager was pleased that the final bill contained a provision equalizing the penalty provisions for tax preparers and taxpayers, which the AICPA had lobbied for heavily in Congress.
Ochsenschlager also noted that the extenders and the AMT patch in the bill were passed early enough for the Internal Revenue Service to include the changes in next season's forms.
"They maintained a lot of the popular tax policies, including cutting out 20 million people from the AMT," said David Lifson, managing partner of Hays & Co. and former president of the New York State Society of CPAs. "They did a lot of what could be characterized as biting around the edges of tax fairness programs. For the most part they didn't address the budgetary headaches. They left that to the next administration. One would expect, depending on who is elected president, there will be a cry for several levels of tax reform."
The legislation also includes an alternative simplified research & development credit, which Congress ratcheted up from 12 to 14 percent. One proposal had set the rate at 16 percent. David Hudson, a member of Ernst & Young's national tax research credit group, speculated that the next extension of the credit might include the higher 16 percent rate.
Among the tax provisions set to expire after 2010 is the estate tax cut. "If it's not extended, it goes back to the pre-Bush reductions," said Ochsenschlager. The capital gains and income tax rates will also be coming up for discussion. "The economy being what it is, if it continues in a tailspin, the Democrats are talking more about a stimulus package than the Republicans. It depends a lot on who is elected."
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