WASHINGTON (AP) – Millions of workers would soon see an extra $13 in their weekly paychecks and thousands of small businesses operating in the red could get tax refunds under the economic recovery bill nearing completion in Congress.

Businesses won’t fare as well as they did in earlier versions of the legislation. But most of the tax cuts for families and individuals were preserved, though some were reduced.

There are tax breaks for low-income families with children; college students; first-time homebuyers; people who buy new automobiles; and those collecting unemployment benefits.

The Obama administration says 95 percent of taxpayers will get relief.

“There are provisions that could pay you now and some that could pay you later,” said Amy McAnarney, executive director of the Tax Institute at H&R Block. “They’re going to give you money to spend, and then they’re going to give you incentives to spend it.”

In all, the $789 billion plan includes about $280 billion in tax cuts. Congress is expected to send the package to President Barack Obama as early as Friday.

Obama’s signature “Making Work Pay” credit would provide up to $400 for individuals and $800 for couples in 2009 and 2010. Most workers would see about a $13 a week increase in their take-home pay, starting around June.

The credit is phased out for individuals making more than $75,000 and couples making more than $150,000. Millions of low-income workers who don’t make enough money to pay income taxes would get checks from the government when they file their 2009 tax returns.

Among the other ways taxpayers could save money:

• Parents with children in college – and some adult students – could get expanded tax credits of up to $2,500 to help cover tuition and related expenses in 2009 and 2010.

• First-time homebuyers could get a tax credit of up to $8,000 if they buy homes between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1.

• Existing homeowners could get a tax credit of up to $1,500 by making their homes more energy-efficient in 2009 or 2010. Numerous projects would qualify, such as installing energy-efficient windows, doors, furnaces, and air conditioners, or adding insulation. Homeowners can get back 30 percent of their expenses, up to $1,500.

• People who buy new cars in 2009 can deduct the sales taxes from their taxable income.

• About 24 million taxpayers would be spared from the Alternative Minimum Tax in 2009. The tax was enacted 40 years ago to make sure the wealthy pay at least some tax. But it never was adjusted for inflation, so Congress enacts a temporary fix each year. On average, the fix would save mainly upper middle-income families of four about $2,300.

• The Earned Income Tax Credit would be expanded for poor families with three or more children that pay no income taxes. More than 22 families qualify for the credit, one of the government’s largest anti-poverty programs.

• Poor families would have greater access to the $1,000 child tax credit, even if they don’t make enough money to pay income taxes.

A married couple with two children making $35,000 would save $1,200 on their 2009 taxes, according to an analysis by Deloitte Tax. That same couple making $125,000 would save $3,700 because of the AMT fix.

Business groups complained that some of their breaks were scaled back or eliminated. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out Thursday in support of the overall package.

“Rather than focus on what’s not in the package, we’re trying to focus on what’s in it,” said Bruce Josten, the group’s executive vice president for government affairs. “It’s all against the backdrop of a worsening recession and increased joblessness.

Among the business provisions:

• Money-losing small businesses could use their losses to offset profits made in the previous five years, instead of two, making them eligible for tax refunds. The provision is limited to businesses with annual revenues under $15 million, reducing the cost to $947 million. The Senate’s version had been open to big companies as well, but it would have cost $19.5 billion.

• Businesses buying equipment such as computers can speed up its depreciation through 2009. Michael Metz, executive vice president of tax services at the accounting firm RSM McGladrey, said the bonus depreciation is a good incentive for companies to upgrade equipment even if they aren’t ready to add capacity.

• Businesses restructuring their debt could delay paying taxes on the transaction for five years, and then spread the payments over an additional five years.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.