As 2013 comes to a close, so will dozens of tax breaks that save companies billions of dollars in tax liability.
Congress has allowed 55 tax breaks to expire but will likely restore many of them, retroactively, in the coming months, the Associated Press reported.
In years past, the breaks have expired only to be restored in the months to come.
“It's a totally ridiculous way to run our tax system,” Rachelle Bernstein, vice president of the National Retail Federation, told the AP. “It's impossible to plan when every year this happens, but yet business has gotten used to that.”
Some of the tax breaks are big, including billions in credits for research and development, generous exemptions for banks that operate overseas and several that allow businesses to write off capital investments faster.
Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, said the practice of letting these tax breaks expire is a symptom of a divided, dysfunctional Congress that struggles to pass routine legislation.
“It's not fair, it's very hard, it's very difficult for a business person, a company, to plan, not just for the short term but to do long-term planning,” Lewis said. “It's shameful.”
With Congress on vacation until January, there is no chance the tax breaks will be renewed before they expire. And there is plenty of precedent for Congress to let them expire for months without addressing them. Most recently, they expired at the end of 2011, and Congress didn't renew them for the entire year, waiting until New Year's Day 2013 — just in time for taxpayers to claim them on their 2012 returns.
But Congress only renewed the package through the end of 2013.
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