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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 TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC 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 DoggettBattle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers Overnight Health Care: Biden sets goal of at least one shot to 70 percent of adults by July 4 | White House to shift how it distributes unallocated vaccines to states MORE (D-Texas) and Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseGraham, Whitehouse: Global transition to renewables would help national security Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 Hillicon Valley: Senate unanimously confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar | Scrutiny mounts on Microsoft's surveillance technology | Senators unveil bill to crack down on cyber criminals 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.

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“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 BrownBiden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE (Ohio) and Reps. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben Raskin House Democrats to Schumer: Vote again on Jan. 6 probe Democrats claim vindication, GOP cries witch hunt as McGahn finally testifies Trump DOJ seized phone records of New York Times reporters MORE (Md.), Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroShelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense COVID-19 long-haulers press Congress for paid family leave Democrats seek staffer salary boost to compete with K Street MORE (Conn.) and Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenWray grilled on FBI's handling of Jan. 6 Viola Fletcher, oldest living survivor of Tulsa Race Massacre, testifies in Congress 'seeking justice' Lobbying world MORE (Tenn.).