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These businesses, and many more like them, have been able to expand and create jobs in spite of the difficult economy with the help of the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC). The NMTC provides a modest credit against federal tax liability to encourage investment in business and economic development in low-income communities. These tax credits have been the catalyst for billions of dollars of private investment, creating hundreds of new businesses and real estate development initiatives in communities that desperately need this kind of financial boost.

The challenge before us now is to keep the NMTC, which expired last December, alive; something which can only be accomplished through congressional action. If ever there was a program that deserves bipartisan support and is a perfect fit for our nation’s greatest economic needs, it’s this one. That’s why we are sponsoring legislation with a number of our congressional colleagues, Democrats and Republicans alike, to extend the NMTC through 2016.

There are some who believe that, in the name of deficit reduction, we need to eliminate tax credits so that more money will flow into the federal treasury. They need to dig a little deeper and understand what is gained from the federal government’s relatively small investment in the NMTC.

According to analysis by a coalition of community development organizations, the cost to the government in lost tax revenues from the NMTC was just over $5 billion from 2003 to 2010. That $5 billion generated $45 billion in community investments. This is a no-brainer. If you have an investment that yields eight dollars for every dollar you put in, you take it. And those dollars led to the creation or retention of about 300,000 jobs in our most financially-troubled communities.

How critical are these tax credits in stimulating economic development? According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), almost nine of every 10 investors using the New Markets Tax Credit say they would not have made investments in low-income communities if not for this incentive. The NMTC is stimulating economic activity that wouldn’t happen without the program.

The NMTC has a structure that ensures it does what it’s intended to do – encourage investments in communities in which the poverty rate is 20 percent or higher, or in which the median family income less than 80% of the area norm. The determination of who receives tax credits are made by community development organizations. The results this structure has generated prove it effective – in 2010, for example, 72 percent of NMTC investments were made in census tracts experiencing severe economic distress and 60 percent were made in communities with unemployment rates at least 1.5 times the national average.

For those who believe that Democrats and Republicans can’t work together anymore to get things done, the NMTC proves that bipartisanship to accomplish important priorities is indeed still possible. Regardless of our political party, we want to create jobs and we want to reinvigorate communities that have taken the brunt of these difficult times. The New Markets Tax Credit plants the seed to build businesses, jobs and long-term growth, and it needs to be extended.

When we return to our districts we see a business succeeding and people who have good jobs and are able to support their families. More than that, though, we see a key part of the solution to America’s economic dilemmas – one that may not be traditional, but has proven to be successful. And one that, in light of the disappointing May jobs numbers, our country can’t afford to let disappear.

Rep. Gerlach (R-Pa..) serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health and the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight  He served in both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and State Senate before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002.

Rep. Neal (D-Mass.) is also a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and is the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measure. He also serves on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade. He served as the mayor of Springfield, Mass. before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989.