Yes Virginia, There Is A Tax Extender Bill In Congress

Jan 1 2014, 2:22pm CST | by

When you woke up this morning, it wasn’t just your pants and dignity that were missing. Also gone were the R&D credit, bonus depreciation, and the deduction for qualified tuition.

In all, 55 provisions of the Internal Revenue Code died an unceremonious death as the possum dropped last night, but understand – this is nothing new. The Code is about as permanent as a Kardashian marriage, with provisions routinely being written for a finite period, expiring, and then either proactively or retroactively being extended. It’s the worst business model imaginable – particularly because many of these short-term provisions were written specifically as business incentives, yet there tenuous nature makes it impossible for businesses to plan for them – but it’s a model that Congress has maddeningly embraced.

Consistent with this cycle, Congress is currently working to resurrect the dead provisions. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), recently introduced Senate Bill 1859, which would extend the overwhelming majority of the expired provisions. But don’t get too excited; the extensions would only be through the end of 2014, which means we’ll be right back in this will-they-or-won’t-they mess next December.

So what would be extended by Senate Bill 1859? It’s times like this I wish I wrote for Bleacher Report, because I’d put each provision on a separate page in a gallery, make you click through all 50-plus of them, and get rich off the ad revenue. But since Forbes doesn’t care about ad revenue*, I’ll just list them out here. Remember, all provisions would be extended through December 31, 2014.

  • The Heath Care Tax Credit.
  • $250 deduction for certain expenses of K-12 teachers.
  • Exclusion of up to $2,000,000 of cancellation of indebtedness from a qualified principal residence (see here for a detailed explanation).
  • Deduction for state and local sales taxes in lieu of income taxes.
  • Above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition.
  • Up to $100,000 of tax-free distributions allowed from the IRA of someone aged 70 ½ or older directly to a charitable organization.
  • The R&D Credit.
  • The New Markets Tax Credit.
  • 15-year depreciation life for qualified leasehold improvements, restaurant buildings and retail improvements.
  • 50% bonus depreciation.
  • The Section 179 limit would remain at $500,000 (without an extension, it plummets to $25,000).
  • 100% exclusion available for the sale of qualified small business stock held longer than five years (see here for a detailed explanation).
  • Abbreviated 5-year recognition period for S corporation built-in-gains (see here for a detailed explanation).

Govtrack.us gives the bill a 20% chance of being enacted. Realistically, while many of these provisions enjoy mutual support from both political parties, others, such as the exclusion for principal residence COD and the various depreciation benefits, are less universally backed. As you might imagine, if even ONE of the provisions becomes a political bargaining chip, it could hold up the extension process for months. And as I discussed above, this largely defeats the purpose of many of the provisions, because their sole goal is to provide incentive to businesses; incentive to buy, to expand, and to invest in themselves. It’s awfully hard for a provision to accomplish this goal when it, you know…no longer exists.

*not accurate. Forbes cares a great deal about ad revenue.

Follow along on twitter @nittigrittytax

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

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