July 25, 2021

The Fine Print in a 5,593-Page Spending Bill: Tax Breaks and Horse Racing

WASHINGTON — Tucked away in the 5,593-page spending bill that Congress rushed through Monday night is a provision that some tax experts call a $200 billion giveaway to the rich.It involves the tens of thousands of businesses that received loans from the federal government this spring with the promise that the loans would be forgiven, tax free, if they agreed to keep employees on the payroll through the coronavirus pandemic.But for some businesses and their high-paid accountants, that was not enough. They went to Congress with another request: Not only should the forgiven loans not to be taxed as income, but the expenditures used with those loans should be tax deductible.Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times“High-income business owners have had tax benefits and unprecedented government grants showered down upon then. And the scale is massive,” wrote Adam Looney, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former Treasury Department tax official in the Obama administration, who estimated that $120 billion of the $200 billion would flow to the top 1% of Americans.The new provision allows for a classic double dip into the Paycheck Protection Program, as businesses get free money from the government, then get to deduct that largess from their taxes.And it is one of hundreds included in a huge spending package and a coronavirus stimulus bill that is supposed to help businesses and families struggling during the pandemic but, critics say, swerved far afield. President Donald Trump on Tuesday night blasted it as a disgrace and demanded revisions.“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests, while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it,” he said in a video posted on Twitter that stopped just short of a veto threat.The measure includes serious policy changes beyond the much-needed $900 billion in coronavirus relief, such as a simplification of federal financial aid forms

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