WASHINGTON (AP) – From finance companies and manufacturers to teachers and the working poor, there is a tax break for almost everyone in the massive package unveiled by congressional leaders.
But don’t get too excited. Only a few of those breaks are new.
Most have been around for years – even decades – and are renewed every year or two, but only temporarily. More than 50 of the tax breaks expired at the start of the year.
The package would make more than 20 of them permanent, providing certainty to millions of businesses and individuals. The other breaks would be extended for shorter periods.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called it the most important tax bill Congress will have passed in a long time.
“I’m excited about this huge win for families … for the economy,” Ryan said Wednesday.
Congress has not released an official estimate, though aides said the bill would save taxpayers about $650 billion over the next decade. That cumulative amount would add to the national debt.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the package costs too much and favors businesses over families.
“In my view this is practically an immorality in terms of how it damages the future,” Pelosi said Wednesday.
The package would let people who live in states without income taxes continue deducting local sales taxes when they file their federal returns. College students could keep their $2,500 tax credit for school expenses. Low-income people with three or more children could continue to claim a larger Earned Income Tax Credit.
Teachers could continue to deduct up to $250 a year if they spend their own money on classroom supplies. Commuters could keep getting tax-free transit benefits from their employers.
For businesses, international finance firms, retailers and companies that spend a lot on research and development could keep generous tax breaks.
Several provisions allow businesses to more quickly write off expenses to capital purchases or property upgrades.
Others make it easier for businesses and retirees to make tax-free charitable donations.
Still others encourage the use of alternative energy.