Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Business

Fiscal cliff deal revives tax breaks for a variety of businesses

WASHINGTON — Wind farms, motorsports tracks, global banks and other businesses won revived tax breaks in a $75.3 billion package included in the last-minute budget deal passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

The package of tax extensions survived attempts to curb them to reduce the U.S. budget deficit that has exceeded $1 trillion for four years. Their beneficiaries and lobbyists received a reprieve and a chance to bargain for another extension this year.

The breaks are "generally economically useless or harmful" —lowering General Electric's tax bill, padding accounting firms' research-credit business and letting lawmakers repeatedly tap lobbyists and companies for donations — said Bob McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, which favors higher taxes on companies.

"If you make them permanent, you get the campaign contribution once," McIntyre said. "You do it every year or two, they have to ante up again and again."

Most of the tax breaks had expired at the end of 2011 and will be continued through 2013.

Although they are lumped together, the miscellaneous tax breaks include a variety of items, from multibillion-dollar benefits for big companies to much smaller changes designed to increase American Indian employment.

Some are broad, like the credit for corporate research, which is supported by a coalition of technology companies, manufacturers and lawmakers including Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee. The two-year extension of the research credit would cost the government $14.3 billion in forgone revenue.

Some of the tax benefits are specialized, such as a $11.2 billion, two-year extension of the active financing exception, which lets GE, Caterpillar and Citigroup, among others, defer taxes on financing income they earn outside the United States. That allows their earnings to be treated like the income of non-financial companies with non-U.S. operations.

The congressional supporters of this provision include Pat Tiberi, an Ohio Republican, and Richard Neal, D-Mass., senior members of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Other breaks are narrow and often ridiculed by lawmakers. They include $78 million worth of accelerated depreciation for motorsports tracks, $248 million in special expensing rules for films and television programs, and a $222 million provision that directs excise taxes on imported rum to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"You can see where Congress' heart is — perhaps its soul as well," McIntyre said.

Restaurants such as Cracker Barrel and McDonald's benefit from the $1.9 billion extension of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring workers from disadvantaged groups.

The bill includes a one-year extension through 2013 of the production tax credit for wind power, at a cost of $12.2 billion. That will save as many as 37,000 jobs in an industry that's expected to stall this year, the American Wind Energy Association said.

The budget agreement also includes a $1.3 billion, one-year extension of a tax break on write-offs of mortgage debt, a tactic becoming increasingly common as banks seek to move beyond the housing crisis. Borrowers won't have to pay income taxes on the principal forgiven as part of a loan modification or during a short sale in which they sell their homes for less than they owe.

Real estate agents, home builders and consumer advocates pushed for the extension, saying it was needed to avert a wave of foreclosures that could depress home prices.

Comments
Fed survey finds worries about higher tariffs

Fed survey finds worries about higher tariffs

Associated PressWASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve’s latest national survey has found that U.S. businesses are growing increasingly concerned about the impact higher tariffs could have on their companies and the overall economy. The Fed reported Wednes...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Most of Tampa Bay’s new liquor licenses won by applicants from South Florida, Tallahassee

Most of Tampa Bay’s new liquor licenses won by applicants from South Florida, Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE — The newest batch of quota liquor licenses for the Tampa Bay area will go to applicants from South Florida and Tallahassee. In its annual drawing, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco selected the winners of 51 licen...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

For nearly 60 years it was breads, cakes and pastries, up before dawn for the Perrone family in Armenia Garden Estates. For a minute it looked like Tampa’s Housewife Bake Shop was going to close, but third-generation owner Tena Perrone said on Wednes...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Report: Unemployment assistance in Florida lagged after Hurricane Irma

Report: Unemployment assistance in Florida lagged after Hurricane Irma

Note: This story has been updated with a response from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.In the days and weeks following Hurricane Irma, Gov. Rick Scott touted his administration’s preparation and response to one of the worst storms to h...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Dick’s destroying all the guns it pulled from its shelves

Dick’s destroying all the guns it pulled from its shelves

PITTSBURGH — Dick’s Sporting Goods is destroying all the guns and accessories that it stopped selling earlier this year after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.The retailer said Tuesday that it is in the process of destroying all the firearms ...
Published: 04/18/18
Amazon partners with Best Buy on smart TVs

Amazon partners with Best Buy on smart TVs

Associated PressNEW YORK — Amazon has cut a deal to sell voice-controlled TVs at Best Buy, the latest attempt by the online retailer to get its burgeoning suite of tech products out where people can see and touch them. Best Buy already sells the Amaz...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida ranks No. 3 for most received, sent robocalls in March

Florida ranks No. 3 for most received, sent robocalls in March

Did you get a robocall recently? You’re not alone. Floridians reportedly received the third-highest number of robocalls in the country in March — 244 million.According to the YouMail Robocall Index Snapshot, Tampa Bay ranked No. 17 for cities with th...
Published: 04/18/18
Four new restaurants in Tampa Bay: Brazilian steakhouse, Chinese, juice bar and more

Four new restaurants in Tampa Bay: Brazilian steakhouse, Chinese, juice bar and more

TERRA GAUCHATerra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse, a classic churrascaria-style Brazilian meatery — you know, where the guys in South American cowboy attire walk around with the swords of meat until you capitulate in a carnivorous haze — has opened a loc...
Published: 04/18/18
Tampa executive sentenced to house confinement in insider trading case

Tampa executive sentenced to house confinement in insider trading case

Andrew Berke of Apollo Beach has been sentenced to four months of house confinement and three years of supervised release in an insider trading scheme in which his co-defendant, Tampa lawyer Walter C. Little, will soon begin serving 27 months in fed...
Published: 04/18/18