Last year I spent a lot of time writing about how the US Congress had done nothing with respect to resolving tax issues. Why is it important for Congress to pass tax law? It is very hard to do tax planning before the end of the year, when you do not know what taxes you have to pay. In 2010, the extenders package, AKA the 2010 Tax Relief Act, finally passed and was signed on December 17 of 2010-which meant the average taxpayer had very little time to engage in tax planning for 2010. Furthermore many of the provisions in that act expire at the end of this year or the next. In otherwords the 111th Congress punted and left these issues to be resolved after the next presidential election. Why should the 112 Congress be any different?
This year I have decided I won’t be spending as much time repeating that “congress still has not acted.” I probably won’t write about what Congress hasn’t been up to again until the end of the year. Here is the mid-year update.
In their own little insulated world the US Congress is more focused on the next election in 2012, than on working on issues. Of course they are concerned about jobs, but they can’t do anything about that without dealing with many other painful issues, which they won’t do. The 112 Congresses sole claim to tax legislation fame is passage of Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011, which repealed the onerous expanded 1099-MISC reporting requires buried in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Heck, Congress only passed the 2011 budget on April 15, 2011-it should have been done by September 30, 2010; they were only 5 1/2 months late. Do not expect Congress to do much of anything else until after the next elections.
What is Congress thinking about? The debt ceiling and the budget deficit. The debt ceiling was reached earlier this year and on or about August 2nd the creative accounting that is allowing the US government to keep borrowing & running will end.
What will Congress do? They will likely punt again. They will probably create some sort of a patch for the debt ceiling issue at the 11th hour, which will move the resolution over that issue until sometime after the next elections. Don’t expect much of anything at all to happen until the fall. Between now an then Congress is going to be taking a week off for the 4th of July and then a month for the August recess.
There are many other tax issues awaiting resolution. On June 30th the 0.2% FUTA surtax expires. The AMT patch, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, R&D Tax Credit, the lower 15-year leasehold improvement depreciation schedule, the Energy Efficient Appliances Tax Credit & several other tax credits expire at the end of this year. Many other tax credits and breaks that were extended at the 11th hour in 2010 expire at the end of 2012. With the deficit looming, tax breaks such as 110% & 50% Bonus Depreciation, lower tax rates on capital gains, Bush Era tax cuts, the repeal of the marriage penalty, personal exemption phase out & itemized deduction phase out, $500,000/$2,000,000 Section 179, shorter depreciation timeframes for leasehold improvements,etc., the $250 adjustment to income for educators, the American Opportunity Educational Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Adoption Tax Credit, are all on the table-don’t expect them all to be extended. Right now Congress is not talking about any of them.
So that is the update, such as it is. Hope you take a break this summer, Congress sure will.
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