Magazine article Government Finance Review

Priority Areas Outlined: Congress Is Addressing Job Creation Initiatives, Financial Services Regulatory Reform, Health-Care Reform, Tax Legislation, and Measures to Foster Retirement Security, All Priority Issues for State and Local Governments

Magazine article Government Finance Review

Priority Areas Outlined: Congress Is Addressing Job Creation Initiatives, Financial Services Regulatory Reform, Health-Care Reform, Tax Legislation, and Measures to Foster Retirement Security, All Priority Issues for State and Local Governments

Article excerpt

President Obama and Congress outlined several priority areas for review and reform for 2010, including job creation initiatives, financial services regulatory reform, healthcare reform, tax legislation, and measures to foster retirement security.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY, JOB CREATION, AND MUNICIPAL BONDS

Congress continues its work on legislation to help the nation's economic recovery.

Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act. The President signed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (H.R. 2847) in mid-March. The legislation is intended to spur job creation through a series of tax breaks. At the heart of the new law is a provision that provides Social Security payroll tax relief for businesses that hire new workers who were previously unemployed, and an additional $1,000 income tax credit if new workers stay on the job for a full year. The law also extends authorization for the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act through 2010 and transfers $19.5 million from the general fund to the highway trust fund to reimburse the highway fund for interest payments not received since 1998 and to ensure that fund's solvency through 2011.

Additionally, the new law changes the application of tax credit within the Qualified School Construction Bond and Qualified Zone Academy Bond

programs, allowing issuers to receive a refund from the federal Treasury equal to the full interest cost of the bonds, rather than giving the investor a tax credit. Clean renewable energy bonds and qualified energy conservation bonds also receive the same treatment, but the refund rate is equal to 70 percent of the interest costs of the bonds.

American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010. The House of Representatives and the Senate continue to work through the particulars of the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010 (H.R. 4213), which would extend long-term unemployment benefits through 2010, along with the 65 percent subsidy to assist unemployed workers with the cost of health care purchased through the COBRA program. The measure would also prevent a cut in physicians' Medicare reimbursement rates and provide aid to states to cover Medicaid costs at the enhanced levels set forth in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The legislation includes more than $30 million in one-year extensions of expired tax breaks. For individual taxpayers, the bill would extend the additional standard deduction for state and local property taxes through 2010 and extend the deduction of state and local general sales taxes through 2011. Finally, the bill contains provisions to allow participants in governmental 457 retirement plans to treat elective deferrals as Roth IRA contributions and to provide relief for private-sector defined benefit plans from various federal funding rules.

Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act of 2010. The House of Representatives began work on the Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act of 2010 (H.R. 4849), which extends many of the municipal bond provisions that were included in the ARRA. This bill would extend the Build America Bonds (BABs) program through 2013. BABs allow the issuer to elect to receive a refund from the U.S. Treasury equal to a portion of the bond's interest costs, rather than a tax credit. Currently, the refund rate is equal to 35 percent of the interest costs. This act would lower the subsidy rate to 33 percent in 2011, 31 percent in 2012, and 30 percent in 2013 (through March 31, 2013). Additionally, the legislation would exempt private activity bond interest from being captured by the Alternative Minimum Tax, for bonds issued through 2011; and authorizes the allocations for Recovery Zone Eco-nomic Development bonds (RZEBs) to be used through 2011 (previously, the bonds had to be issued by December 31, 2010), and it also calls on the Treasury Department to reassess the allocations so that each local jurisdiction receives a minimum allocation based on the 2008 unemployment numbers. …

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