Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has unveiled a stripped-down version of the draft jobs legislation that was proposed only hours earlier by the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Finance Committee.
Reids legislation focuses more strictly on job creation, but lacks provisions in the Finance Committee version that extended expired business tax breaks (see Senate Releases Draft of Jobs Bill). His bill is estimated to cost $15 billion over 10 years, while the draft legislation outlined by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Charles Grassley, D-Iowa, on Thursday is estimated at $85 billion over 10 years.
Reids version leaves out extensions of several tax breaks that expired at the end of last year, including the deduction for sales and property taxes and the Research and Development Credit. Reid's bill also omits an extension in unemployment benefits through May 31 for the long-term jobless and a 65 percent COBRA health insurance subsidy, as well as a seven-month extension in a reimbursement formula for physicians who participate in Medicare to prevent a 21 percent reduction in their payments.
However, like the Finance Committees draft legislation, it includes a measure proposed by Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that offers an exemption from Social Security payroll taxes for every worker hired in 2010 that has been unemployed for at least 60 days. There would also be an additional $1,000 income tax credit for every new employee retained for 52 weeks to be taken on the employers 2011 income tax return.
Reids bill also retains a provision extending the 2008 and 2009 Section 179 expensing thresholds, allowing taxpayers to elect to write off up to $250,000 of certain capital expenditures for equipment (subject to a phase-out once the expenditures exceed $800,000) in 2010, in lieu of depreciating those costs over time.
Other provisions retained in the bill extend the Highway Trust Fund to allow states and localities to invest more in infrastructure through the rest of the year, and expand the Build America Bonds program to allow state and local governments to borrow at lower costs to finance more infrastructure projects through a federal government subsidy.
This is a simplified, focused bill that addresses our core priority: putting millions of Americans back to work by helping our business community thrive again, said Reid in a statement. Each piece of this bill enjoys bipartisan support, and I look forward to swift action on this measure that will create and save dependable jobs.
However, it is unclear whether the measure will attract Republican support after what was seen as a rebuff to Grassley and Baucuss agreement on the Finance Committee draft legislation, and the loss of tax extenders for businesses.
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