The Senate passed a bill containing $70 billion in tax cuts, part of a budget push Republicans are hoping will lead to an extension of President Bush's tax cuts.

The central feature of the tax bill is a one-year reprieve on the alternative minimum tax for millions of middle-class families. The AMT relief is set to expire at the end of 2005, meaning about 20 million families would have to pay when they file their returns for the 2006 tax year.

The House version of the bill carries a two-year extension of Bush's tax cuts on capital gains and dividends, which are scheduled to expire at the end of 2008.

Senate tax writers used the bill to revive a business credit for research and development and keep it in place for two years, an incentive Bush had called to make permanent during his State of the Union address.

T he original bill passed by the Senate last November was worth about $60 billion and the additional cuts are part of a compromise with the House of Representatives. Much of the Senate bill restores popular deductions for college tuition and teachers' expenses, as well as a credit for low-income savers.

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