Fiscal cliff deal looks so-so for U.S businesses on taxes

Fiscal cliff deal looks so-so for U.S businesses on taxes

(cbsnews.com)

"This agreement might not be seen as perfect by everyone..."
Washington (ANTARA News/Reuters) - The "fiscal cliff" deal that slowly, painfully took shape in the U.S. Congress in recent days fulfills some of corporate America`s tax policy goals, but leaves others unmet, including a big one - meaningful deficit and debt reduction.

The bill, which received final congressional approval late on Tuesday on a 257-167 bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, would provide businesses with greater tax certainty in the short term.

President Barack Obama was expected to sign the bill soon.

The legislation contains a long list of tax "extenders," or temporary tax provisions that will be perpetuated for a year.

Some big-ticket items were part of that, including an extension through 2013 of the widely claimed research and development tax credit. Also included was a provision allowing businesses to write off immediately half the value of new investments, known as 50 percent bonus depreciation.

The legislation also includes a wide range of other favors for select industries, including tax breaks for railroad track maintenance, restaurant and retail store improvements, auto racetracks, film and television production, and rum production in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Wind Power Backed

Numerous tax breaks for wind power production and other alternative energy technologies were also included.

"This agreement might not be seen as perfect by everyone, but it gives American consumers and businesses the certainty they need to put worries over this issue behind them," said Matthew Shay, head of the National Retail Federation.

Washington`s army of business tax lobbyists need not fear that the bill will leave them with nothing left to do. Just as notable as what is in the deal is what is not, especially when it comes to reducing the federal deficit.

The legislation postpones for two months the deep federal spending cuts, known as the "sequester," that were a central worry of the "fiscal cliff." That delay could set up another fiscal cliff in late February, analysts said.

No "Territorial System"

The compromise also makes no mention of setting up a new method of taxing profits made offshore and brought into the country by U.S. multinational corporations. Many such businesses have been pushing for a "territorial system" that would let them bring foreign-earned profits home with little or no taxation.

The White House did note in its summary of the legislation that it left "substantial scope" for "reforming corporate taxes" and cutting the corporate tax rate to make it more competitive with the rate in other industrialized countries.

That had been a key goal of lobbyists.

Guggenheim Partners policy analyst Chris Krueger said the deal was "far above what was expected" for business.

He said, "On the deficit reduction side of things, it was clearly a miss, but I suspect they will take the short-term certainty with extenders over entitlement reform any day."

Those omissions from the compromise plan mean much work remains for those wishing to overhaul the U.S. tax code. That is a project that may or may not materialize in 2013.
(U.G005/H-RN)

Comments