Still looking for a fiscal cliff deal 

Posted: 2:24 pm Sunday, December 16th, 2012

By Jamie Dupree

Eclipsed by the aftermath of the mass school shooting in Connecticut, Congress returns to work Monday with just eight days until Christmas and two weeks until a year-end deadline for action on the tax and budget impasse known as the fiscal cliff.

And there doesn’t seem to be much optimism about cutting a deal – but sometimes in Washington, D.C., that’s when the deal suddenly materializes.  Really, don’t be surprised if something surfaces out of nowhere in coming days that can be approved by lawmakers before Christmas.

Over the weekend, Speaker John Boehner reportedly floated the idea of allowing tax rates to go up on millionaires, in exchange for a series of entitlement reforms and spending cuts, but while Democrats semeed to frown on the idea, there were some rumblings that maybe – just maybe – the ice was starting to break on both sides.

One thing to remember is that this battle is about so much more than just whether the Bush tax rates and tax cuts are extended fully or partially, as there are a series of matters which must be dealt with by lawmakers.

That’s one reason many wonder if we are about to see some kind of deal that extends a bunch of expiring tax provisions, but punts most of the difficult decisions into next year.

Among the many items that must be dealt with by lawmakers are what’s known as the “tax extenders,” a series of business and personal tax breaks that have been “extended” repeatedly by the Congress – that’s how the group got the name.

How much is involved there? Here’s a list that’s sure to make your head hurt:

Above-the-Line Deduction for Certain Expenses of Elementary and Secondary School Teachers ($230 million/year)

Deduction for State and Local Sales Taxes 2011 ($2.79 billion)

Above-the-Line Deduction for Qualified Tuition and Related Expenses ($780 million)

Estate Tax Look-Through for Certain Regulated Investment Company (RIC) Stock Held by Nonresidents ($10 million)

Premiums for Mortgage Insurance Deductible as Qualified Interest ($740 million)

Parity for Exclusion for Employer-Provided Mass Transit and Parking Benefits ($160 million)

Disclosure of Prisoner Return Information to Certain Prison Officials (less than $10 million)

Treatment of Military Basic Housing Allowance under Low-Income Housing Credit (less than $10 million)

Expansion of Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Programs (less than $10 million)

Refunds Disregarded in the Administration of Federal Programs and Federally Assisted Programs (less than $10 million)

Credit for Prior Year Minimum Tax Liability Made Refundable After Period of Years ($930 million)

Exclusion of Discharge of Principal Residence Indebtedness from Gross Income for Individuals ($1.33 billion)

Temporary Increase in Limit on Cover-Over of Rum Excise Tax Revenues to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands ($130 million)

Expensing of “Brownfield” Environmental Remediation Costs ($180 million)

Work Opportunity Tax Credit 2011 ($970 million)

Indian Employment Tax Credit 2011 ($60 million)

Accelerated Depreciation for Business Property on Indian Reservations ($90 milion)

Exceptions under Subpart F for Active Financing Income 2011 ($5.21 million)

Look-Through Treatment of Payments Between Controlled Foreign Corporations under the Foreign Personal Holding

Company Rules ($780 million)

Credit for Railroad Track Maintenance 2011 ($170 million)

15-Year Straight-Line Cost Recovery for Qualified Leasehold, Restaurant, and Retail Improvements ($2.93 billion)

7-Year Recovery for Motorsport Racing Facilities 2011 ($30 million)

Deduction Allowable with Respect to Income Attributable to Domestic Production Activities in Puerto Rico ($200 million)

Modification of Tax Treatment of Certain Payments to Controlling Exempt Organizations ($20 million)

Treatment of Certain Dividends of Regulated Investment Companies (“RICs”) ($10 million)

Employer Wage Credit for Activated Military Reservists (less than $10 million)

Special Expensing Rules for Film and Television Production 2011 ($120 million)

RIC Qualified Investment Entity Treatment under FIRPTA ($60 million)

Special Rules for Qualified Small Business Stock ($1.21 billion)

Additional First-Year Depreciation for 100% of Basis of Qualified Property ($5.97 billion)

Increase in Expensing to $500,000/$2,000,000 and Expansion of Definition of Section 179 Property ($2.35 billilon)

Reduction in S Corporation Recognition for Built-In Gains Tax ($70 million)

Work Opportunity Tax Credit Targeted to Hiring Qualified Veterans ($130 million)

Additional First-Year Depreciation for 50 Percent of Basis of Qualified Property (less than $10 million)

Election to Accelerate AMT Credits in Lieu of Additional First-Year Depreciation (less than $10 million)

Increase in dollar limitation for expensing to $125,000/$500,000 (indexed) ($310 million)

Charitable Provisions

Enhanced Charitable Deduction for Corporate Contributions of Computer Equipment for Educational

Purposes ($240 million)

Enhanced Charitable Deduction for Contributions of Food Inventory ($140 million)

Enhanced Charitable Deduction for Contributions of Book Inventory to Public Schools ($60 million)

Tax-Free Distributions from Individual Retirement Accounts for Charitable Purposes ($560 million)

Basis Adjustment to Stock of S Corporations Making Charitable Contributions of Property

Special Rules for Contributions of Capital Gain Real Property for Conservation Purposes


Energy Provisions

Suspensions of 100%-of-Net-Income Limitation on Percentage Depletion for Oil and Gas from Marginal Wells ($130 million)

Special Rule to Implement Electric Transmission Restructuring (less than $10 million)

Credit for Construction of Energy Efficient New Homes ($70 million)

Placed-in-Service Date for Refined Coal Production Facilities ($110 million)

Mine Rescue Team Training Credit (less than $10 million)

Election to Expense Mine-Safety Equipment (less than $10 million)

Credit for Energy Efficient Appliance ($240 million)

Credit for Nonbusiness Energy Property ($610 million)

Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property ($20 million)

Incentives for Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixtures ($160 million)

Incentives for Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel ($1.11 billion)

Incentives for Alcohol Fuels (less than $10 million)

Grants for Specified Energy Property in Lieu of Tax Credits ($1.31 billion)

Credit for Electric Drive Motorcycles, Three-Wheeled, and Low-Speed Vehicles (less than $10 million)

Conversion Credit for Plug-In Electric Vehicles (less than $10 million)

Qualified Green Building and Sustainable Design Project Bonds (less than $10 million)

Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Credit ($20 million)

Construction Date for Wind Facilities Eligible to Claim the Electricity Production Credit

Credit for Production of Indian Coal (less than $10 million)

Election to Claim the Energy Credit in Lieu of the Electricity Production Credit for Wind Facilities ($140 million)

Special Depreciation Allowance for Cellulosic Biofuel Plant Property (less than $10 million)

Community Assistance Provisions

Qualified Zone Academy Bonds – Allocation of Bond Limitation ($130 million)

New Markets Tax Credit ($860 million)

American Samoa Economic Development Credit ($20 million)

Tax Incentives for Investment in the District of Columbia

Empowerment Zone Tax Incentives

Disaster Relief Provisions

New York Liberty Zone – Tax Exempt Bond Financing ($60 million)

Tax-Exempt Bond Financing for the Gulf Opportunity (GO) Zone ($140 million)

Low-Income Housing Credit Additional Credit for the GO Zone ($190 million)

Placed-in-Service Date for Additional Depreciation for specified GO Zone Extension Property ($210 million)

Increase in Rehabilitation Credit for Structures Located in the GO Zone ($20 million)

Increase in Rehabilitation Credit for Areas Damaged by the 2008 Midwestern Storms

Tax-Exempt Bond Financing for Areas Damaged by the 2008 Midwestern Storms

Tax-Exempt Bond Financing for Areas Damaged by Hurricane Ike 

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