September 17, 2008

Crapo, Finance Committee Unveil Tax Relief Plan

County payments would resume under compromise legislation

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is joining with fellow members of the Senate Finance Committee to back a bipartisan plan offering new tax relief to families and businesses. The tax extender legislation includes individual tax relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT); extends tax credits for renewable energy production, including wind, solar and geothermal power; and extends important tax relief for college tuition, state and local sales taxes and research and development for American businesses. It also provides tax incentives for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, as well as energy efficiency and recycling.

The plan also includes funding to continue federal payments to counties with federal land to offset the loss of tax payments. The loss of the county payments has posed the threat of county budget cuts and layoffs, especially in western states.

Crapo has been a steadfast advocate for extending the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, commonly called county payments, and fully funding Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). He has sought an extension and funding in multiple pieces of legislation and appealed to his colleagues through Senate floor and committee speeches and discussions. Crapo praised the inclusion of the extension of county payments until 2011 and full funding for PILT through 2012 in the tax extender legislation.

"Obtaining an extension of county payments to prevent the loss of jobs, services, infrastructure and quality education of children in Idaho and across this nation has been a top priority," said Crapo. "This extension is critical to many Idaho families and communities challenged with providing needed services in communities with large amounts of federal land. The inclusion of county payments in this bill brings us a major step closer to pushing the extension over the finish line and ensuring that rural communities are able to continue vital services."

As a member of the Senate Finance Committee with jurisdiction over tax issues, Crapo has also pushed hard for a repeal of the AMT. Close to 90,000 Idaho families may be hit with the outdated federal income tax because it has never been adjusted for inflation since it was created in 1969 to prevent wealthy taxpayers from paying any tax.

"For the 2005 tax year, the most current year available for figures, just under 10,000 Idaho families and individuals subjected to the AMT, but that number will explode to close to 90,000 for this tax year," Crapo said. "Without action from Congress, more than $50 billion in payments and penalties will be collected from middle-income Americans, which was never intended to happen. Idaho families with an adjusted gross income of $20,000 could even find themselves unexpectedly facing this onerous tax. The 'patch' included in this legislation will protect these families from the AMT for one more year. But providing these last-minute patches one year at a time is no way to threat the American taxpayer. When Congress reconvenes next year, we must act to permanently repeal the AMT."

The bipartisan tax package contains offsets to raise revenue by scaling back deductions on oil and gas companies' foreign operations and capping an across-the-board 6% manufacturing deduction for U.S. industries. The proposal must pass the full Senate and be matched with a differing version in the U.S. House of Representatives.