Democrats offer bill to undo business tax provisions in coronavirus law

Democrats offer bill to undo business tax provisions in coronavirus law
© Greg Nash

A group of Democrats has introduced a bill to undo business tax provisions in coronavirus relief legislation that have been at the center of controversy.

The relief package President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Anderson Cooper: Trump's Bubba Wallace tweet was 'racist, just plain and simple' Beats by Dre announces deal with Bubba Wallace, defends him after Trump remarks Overnight Defense: DOD reportedly eyeing Confederate flag ban | House military spending bill blocks wall funding MORE signed late last month, known as the CARES Act, included provisions that loosened rules relating to businesses' net operating losses (NOLs). Republicans argue that the provisions allow businesses to have more cash flow that they can use to retain their employees during the coronavirus crisis. But many Democrats argue that they are too generous to wealthy business owners.

Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettGilead sets price for five-day coronavirus treatment at ,120 The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Mark Takano says Congress must extend worker benefits expiring in July; WHO reports record spike in global cases Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? MORE (D-Texas) and Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrat asks Barr to preserve any records tied to environmental hacking probe Democrats warn Biden against releasing SCOTUS list Key Democrat accuses Labor head of 'misleading' testimony on jobless benefits MORE (D-R.I.) have been leading the Democratic criticism of the provisions, and on Friday they rolled out legislation to undo them and create a new provision that is designed to be more targeted to smaller businesses.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Tax giveaways for a wealthy few shouldn’t have come near a coronavirus relief bill. Relief legislation ought to address the needs of small businesses and workers, not fleece taxpayers to benefit real estate moguls and hedge fund billionaires,” Whitehouse said in a statement. “By repealing these special interest giveaways, we can free up billions of dollars for federal assistance our communities and economy so desperately need.”

Doggett and Whitehouse's bill would repeal a provision in the CARES Act that removed a limitation on the amount of business losses owners of non-corporate businesses could use to offset their non-business income. The Democrats' bill reinstates the limits of $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a married couple.

The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimated, in an analysis requested by Doggett and Whitehouse, that the vast majority of the tax cuts from the CARES Act provision would go to households with income of at least $1 million. JCT has also estimated that the CARES Act provision costs about $135 billion over 10 years.

“This provision isn’t about coronavirus, working families or small businesses struggling to stay afloat," Doggett said. "It is just more insider politics to get millions to those who have millions, especially real estate investors and hedge fund managers. Repealing this giveaway will free resources needed to help those truly in need.”

The Democrats' bill also would replace another provision in the CARES Act relating to NOLs — which allows businesses to carry back  losses generated in 2018, 2019 or 2020 for up to five years — with a new provision that is narrower.

Doggett and Whitehouse's bill would allow companies with less than $15 million in receipts to carry back losses generated in 2020 for up to two years. Companies that qualify would be able to apply to get an advance refund of up to $100,000 in order to receive money more quickly. Companies that have engaged in significant stock buybacks would not be able to utilize the provision. 

A number of Democratic lawmakers have co-sponsored Doggett and Whitehouse's bill, including Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers On The Money: Mnuchin, Powell differ over how soon economy will recover | Millions fear eviction without more aid from Congress | IRS chief pledges to work on tax code's role in racial wealth disparities IRS chief pledges to work with Congress on examining tax code's role in racial wealth disparities MORE (Ohio) and Reps. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinDemocrats start cracking down on masks for lawmakers Clyburn threatens to end in-person coronavirus committee hearings if Republicans won't wear masks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems, GOP dig in on police reform ahead of House vote MORE (Md.), Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroDems add .4 billion in emergency COVID spending to health bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, GOP on defense as nationwide protests continue The coronavirus crisis has cut the child care sector MORE (Conn.) and Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenPelosi throws cold water on impeaching Barr Justice Department officials say decisions are politicized Congress must act on police reform, don't let opponents divert the conversation MORE (Tenn.).