The U.S. Congress approved an $858 billion tax deal between President Barack Obama and the Republicans that will boost the economy but add to the budget deficit.
Following are key components of the bill. All cost estimates are from the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation and for a 10-year period unless noted.
INDIVIDUAL INCOME, INVESTMENT TAXES
- Extends tax rates for all income groups, including the wealthiest 2 percent, which Obama had originally opposed.
- Cost of keeping tax rates for the middle and lower income groups: $127 billion. Cost to retain the top two income tax rates Obama originally opposed: $61 billion.
- Keeps capital gains and dividends taxed at a top rate of 15 percent. Obama and Democrats had sought a 20 percent top rate. Cost: $54 billion.
- Repeals certain limitations on deductions for high-earning individuals. Cost: $21 billion.
- Extends a $2,500 annual college tax credit, favored by Obama, for two years. Cost: $18 billion.
- Extends a $1,000 child tax credit, which phases out at higher incomes, for two years. Cost: $72 billion
- Boosts earned income tax credit, which benefits low-earning working individuals. Cost: $12 billion
- Obama conceded to Republican demands on the estate tax — 35 percent after a $5 million individual exemption.
- That level was originally pitched by Republican Senator Jon Kyl. Obama and Democrats had wanted to renew the tax at 2009 levels of 45 percent rate with a $3.5 million exemption level. The estate tax expired this year. Cost: $68 billion.
- The bill extends long-term unemployment insurance for 13 months, without a requirement that it be paid for immediately as Republicans have demanded.
- Two million people by the end of the year will lose their benefits if the benefits are not extended, according to the National Employment Law Project, a workers’ rights group.
- Jobless benefits usually expire after six months, but since the recession took hold in 2007 Congress has voted to extend them for up to 99 weeks.
- Cost: $57 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX
- The bill amends the alternative minimum tax by indexing it to inflation to prevent more than 20 million middle-class taxpayers from getting hit with the tax, intended to ensure the wealthy pay some income taxes. Cost: $137 billion.
EXPENSING FOR BUSINESS
- Lets businesses of all sizes write off investments faster in 2011. This benefits capital-intensive companies the most. Cost: $21 billion.
PAYROLL TAX CREDIT
- Employers and workers each pay a 6.2 percent payroll tax, which funds Social Security. The bill lowers the rate for workers to 4.2 percent for one year.
- The Social Security Trust Fund would be paid back by a transfer of general funds.
- Cost: $111 billion.
ADDITIONAL INDUSTRY TAX BREAKS
- Extends a 45-cent-per gallon tax credit for ethanol for one year and a 54-cent tariff on imported ethanol. Cost: $7 billion.
- Revives for 2010 and extends a research and development tax credit to 2011. Cost: $13 billion for two years.
(Reporting by Kim Dixon; editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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