Ways And Means Approves Tax Portion Of Virus Relief Bill

By Stephen Cooper
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Law360 (February 11, 2021, 7:02 PM EST) -- The House Ways and Means Committee approved the tax provisions of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief legislation on Thursday, giving its approval for $1,400 economic stimulus payments and enhanced tax credits for families and children.

"Columbia University estimates that 8 million people have fallen into poverty because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this burden has disproportionately fallen on communities of color," said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Lawmakers voted 24-18 to approve the tax portions of Biden's American Rescue Plan after a two-day markup in which Democrats rejected various amendments from Republican lawmakers along political party-line votes. The legislation now goes to the House Budget Committee, where it will be combined with the work of other House committees in preparation for an upcoming vote by the full House.

Ways and Means also approved coronavirus pandemic relief legislation dealing with nursing home care, extended health care coverage for jobless Americans, retirement security and emergency food and housing assistance for vulnerable families.

"The pandemic has caused millions of Americans economic hardship and uncertainty," said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash. "Columbia University estimates that 8 million people have fallen into poverty because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this burden has disproportionately fallen on communities of color."

The tax legislation approved by the committee would cost nearly $594 billion over the next decade, according to a Tuesday revenue estimate by the Joint Committee on Taxation.

The legislation would provide $1,400 virus relief payments to individuals that would phase out for individuals making more than $75,000, or $150,000 for couples. No payments would go to individuals making more than $100,000, or couples making more than $200,000, under Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal's legislation.

The bill would also increase the child tax credit to $3,000 in certain cases, or $3,600 for children under age 6; expand eligibility for the earned income tax credit; and extend credits to reimburse employers for workers' paid sick leave, among other tax changes.

Neal, D-Mass., updated the legislation on Monday to include a provision allowing the U.S. Department of the Treasury to make payments to U.S. territories equal to all their earned income tax credit costs each calendar year, according to the JCT estimate.

During the markup, the committee also approved a provision to eliminate a long-delayed corporate tax benefit that would loosen foreign tax credit limitations for companies with interest expenses.

Companies would not be allowed to apportion interest expense on a worldwide basis to determine taxable income applied to foreign tax credit limitations. This change to current law would raise $22 billion in revenue over the next 10 years, relative to current law, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., faulted Democrats for not working with Republicans on the legislation, which he said could have garnered support.

"We have a long-standing track record for bipartisan support," he said. "We don't oppose every single provision here."

The Senate Finance Committee must also approve the tax provisions of the coronavirus relief bill. If the tax provisions are identical to what the House passes, then the full Senate can approve the legislation under a process known as budget reconciliation that doesn't require votes from Republican lawmakers.

--Editing by Vincent Sherry. 

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