WASHINGTON: – The US Senate approved a sweeping package of tax breaks Tuesday, sending to President Barack Obama a bill that allows individuals and corporations to save billions of dollars on their 2014 taxes.
On the Senate’s final day of the year, lawmakers passed some 55 so-called tax extenders, deductions that expired at the end of 2013 but will be retroactively restored with the current legislation.
The Senate easily passed the measure, 76 votes to 16, after the House passed it earlier this month.
“Today’s strong bipartisan vote shows that Democrats and Republicans can come together to encourage our economy to create jobs and strengthen the middle class,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement.
Members hastily crafted the extenders package after a much broader bipartisan tax reform measure collapsed spectacularly in November when the White House threatened to veto it because it left out critical provisions for working families.
That left little time to draft an alternate before Congress was to adjourn for the year.
Tax extenders have become a traditional quirk of the cumbersome US tax system, and some of the deductions in Tuesday’s final package have been extended annually since the 1980s.
This year’s package will cost US taxpayers an estimated $44.7 billion over 10 years, and include perks for horse racing, the wind energy industry, Hollywood moviemakers and NASCAR auto racing.
But it also offers much-needed tax credits for research and development, lowers costs for teachers who pay for supplies out of their own pocket, and helps struggling home owners who entered programs to reduce their mortgages.