Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Small And Family Business Tax Breaks In The Works

Politicians believe small businesses are the job engine of the US economy, and besides direct job creating measures, legislative leaders are also proposing work on a couple tax breaks for family owned and other small businesses before this session of Congress comes to a close. Despite Obama administration resistance to a permanent fix for the estate tax this session, House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel is still pushing for permanent changes in the estate tax.

On the Senate side, Senators Thomas Carper and George Voinovich have introduced a bill to index the estate tax exemption to inflation. Their measure carries a cost of $23 billion in lost revenue to the federal government. A different measure supported by Congressmen Shelly Berkley and Senator Blanche Lincoln, would lower the estate tax rate to 35% and raise the exemption to $5 million, costing a revenue loss of $70 billion altogether.

Carper and Voinovich tout their proposal as a compromise measure. “For the sake of families and small businesses, we can’t let the estate tax go back into full effect,” Carper says, “and yet as long as we are running huge budget deficits we can’t afford full repeal, either.”

In an effort to give a break to some businesses which entered unwittingly into discredited tax shelter investments, the House Ways and Means leadership and the Senate Finance leadership are proposing a measure to relieve small businesses from fines grossly disproportionate to the tax benefits they purported to receive with the barred tax shelters. Some businesses have been fined as much as $300,000.00 for claiming an improper tax benefit of $15,000.00. House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis spoke about such situations: “This is not fair. Small businesses should not be run out of business by tax shelter penalties aimed at big corporations.”

Last June the IRS stopped collecting the disproportionate penalties, to give Congress an opportunity to correct the situation. A bill introduced in both houses of Congress Monday would limit the penalty to 75% of the tax benefits improperly claimed.
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