Rep. Pascrell on Tax Relief Bill: ‘Far from Perfect’
PATERSON, NJ – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) released the following statement following Congress’ passage of tax extender legislation. The bill, the “Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015,” passed in the House today by a vote of 318-109. Rep. Pascrell was co-lead on several pieces of the bill, including the Teacher Tax Credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
“The bill is far from perfect,” Pascrell said, but “there are provisions that support mass transit commuters, small businesses, low-income housing, families paying for college, economic development. The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit are our biggest forces against poverty in this country, in this nation. I can't say enough about the significance of making these enhanced credits permanent.”
“When faced with the choice between these important priorities for families, for teachers, for public safety officers, I simply can't in good conscience vote against them to prove a point that not everything is in there, including the kitchen sink,” Pascrell said.
Rep. Pascrell spoke on the floor today regarding the bill. His floor speech can be found here: http://cs.pn/1mqcaSu.
Among the positive outcomes of the bill:
• Work Opportunity Tax Credit: Extended through 2019 and modified to apply to employers who hire long-term unemployed (unemployed more than 27 weeks or more). Increases the credit for those employers to 40% of the first $6,000 of wages. Rep. Pascrell co-lead legislation with Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) to expand the credit to include the hiring of long-term unemployed.
• Teacher tax credit made permanent: Extends above-the-line deduction up to $250 for expenses incurred by elementary and secondary school teachers, modified to include professional development expenses, and indexed to inflation. Rep. Pascrell co-lead legislation with Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) to make this credit permanent.
• Thrift Savings Plan age eligibility for public safety officers: Allows public safety officers to access their TSPs before the age of 50 without incurring a tax penalty. This provision, led by Rep. Pascrell and Rep. Reichart, previously passed into law but did not include certain federal officers due to the way they are defined in federal law. This provision would expand the definition of public safety officers who can access their TSP to include nuclear materials couriers, U.S. Capitol Police, Supreme Court Police, and diplomatic security special agents.
• EITC Expansion: This bill made permanent the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) enhancements enacted in 2009. Introduced in 2007, the Strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit Act was the first tax reform proposal put forth by Rep. Pascrell as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill reduced the EITC’s marriage penalty, increased the return for families with three or more children, expanded the credit for individuals with no children, and permanently extended the provision that allows members of the armed forces to include combat pay as income in EITC calculations. The bill was folded in as a part of the $275 billion in tax cuts passed in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. With today’s vote, these provisions will become permanent.