On the Proposed Tax Cuts

Senate Debate on Extending 2001/2003 Tax Cuts

By Children’s Home Society of Florida Foundation

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The Senate Finance Committee conducted a hearing on July 14, 2010 to discuss the potential extension of tax cuts. In the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA), there were tax reductions for nearly all Americans. The tax reductions continue through 2010, but are set to be repealed on January 1, 2011.

Proposals

The White House has proposed to extend these tax cuts for single persons with incomes under $200,000 ($250,000 for couples), but to increase the capital gain rate and top income tax brackets. Under the White House plan, the capital gain rate will increase from 15% to 20%, the 33% bracket increases to 36% and the 35% tax bracket is raised to 39.6%.

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The Senate

Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) opened the hearing by stating, “Americans are struggling to make ends meet, and we need to do all we can to put more money back in the hands of workers, middle-class families and small businesses so our economy can grow. I support extending the middle-class tax cuts permanently, as soon as possible, so working families can keep more of their hard-earned money.”

Sen. Baucus and the White House are both advocating a permanent extension of the tax cuts for low and middle-income taxpayers, with an increase in taxes for those in the upper brackets.

Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee Charles Grassley (R-IA) has repeatedly expressed concern about the increase of taxes on small business owners. He noted, “To those who are pushing the higher marginal rates, I say the burden is on you to show that you are not harming our primary job creators.” Sen. Grassley has noted that two-thirds of new jobs in the past decade have been created by the small business owners who will be subject to the higher taxes.

Editor’s Note: The hearings on taxes are the first step in creation of a tax bill. Because the failure to act this year would result in repeal of all of the tax cuts, it is probable that there will be a tax bill prior to the end of 2010. However, with the shortened legislative calendar due to the fall elections, the tax bill is quite likely to be deferred until after the election.

Conclusion

Douglas Holtz-Eakin is President of the American Action Forum and was formerly the Congressional Budget Office Director. He testified that approximately one-half of the $1 trillion in business income that will be reported in 2011 will be subject to the higher 36% and 39.6% tax brackets. In his opinion these higher rates will reduce the willingness of small businesses to hire new employees.

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