While Congress tackles long-term tax reform, it continues to consider and enact piecemeal legislation aimed at specific areas. As a result, there are several bills afloat that, if enacted, would impact the ability of business to do business.
For those who missed the last jobs bill, there’s a new one that was marked up yesterday by the Ways and Means Committee. Its title is the “Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits, and Services Act of 2011.
There’s also another act, introduced in March, called the “Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act.” Both acts have a short-form title, the former being the “JOBS Act of 2011,” while the latter officially should be referred to as the “Work Opportunities and Revitalizing Our Communities Act.”
The JOBS bill addresses our current unemployment program by making reforms to the permanent unemployment benefits program, including minimum job search standards, and expecting those most likely to exhaust benefits without finding work, such as those without a high school degree, to get education or training. It would also allow states more flexibility to test strategies to help the unemployed return to work, including through wage subsidies.
A second feature of the JOBS bill involves forward funding the remaining federal unemployment funds for the year so that the states would have the ability to pay regular or extended unemployment benefits, prevent unemployment tax hikes on employers, pay interest or principle on federal unemployment loans, and promote job creation and hiring through the use of re-employment services and wage subsidies.
Thankfully, there is no cost for this legislation.
However, the second bill would impose a new tax on covered securities transactions, payable by trading facilities that deal in such transactions. Although not designated as a “pay-for,” the Work Opportunities Act proposes a new Section 4475 as an addition to the Tax Code. It would impose a tax on 0.25 percent of the value of a security involved in each “covered securities transaction.”
Here’s some of what the new tax pays for: a Full Employment National Trust Fund with two separate accounts for Employment Opportunity Grants to states, local governments and Indian tribes for job-creating activities in communities whose employment is not at a level of full employment; and Workforce Investment programs.
It would also introduce a national employment conference “to bring together leaders of small, medium, and large businesses, labor, government, and other parties to discuss employment, with particular attention to structural unemployment and the plight of disadvantaged youth.”
Without trying to handicap the likelihood of passage, in this Congress it would seem the provisions in the JOBS bill would be more attractive to a majority of members. Presumably, provisions in the other bill—the Work Opportunities and Revitalizing Our Communities Act—are more likely to be bargaining chips in negotiations with the Senate.
So, despite the hope that Congress will once and for all get things right with regard to taxes, the world changes, the economy changes, and Congress changes its approach to potential remedies.
And there will continue to be Tax Code changes.
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