Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024   Recently updated !


The tax agreement known as the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 has been moved forward by the House Ways and Means Committee for consideration on the House floor. This proposal aims to reinstate, on a temporary and retroactive basis, two significant business deductions related to cost recovery. Additionally, it seeks to extend the child tax credit until 2025, accompanied by various other modifications. The funding for this act is secured by implementing measures to prevent fraudulent disbursements of a tax credit established during the COVID era.

Although the package falls short of being ideal, it signifies a positive move by adopting a fiscally responsible strategy to enhance cost recovery. A key aspect is its effort to rectify a significant competitive drawback in the existing approach to research and development (R&D) by reverting to the international standard. This involves granting companies the full and immediate deduction of R&D expenses, encompassing salaries for scientists and researchers. Similarly, the package allows companies to fully and immediately deduct investments in equipment and other short-lived assets. Nevertheless, it introduces a temporary extension of these provisions only until 2025, creating uncertainty for taxpayers and somewhat dampening the otherwise robust pro-growth incentives of these policies.

The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 contains the following major provisions:

Temporary R&D Expensing

The proposed legislation includes a temporary provision to reinstate full expensing for domestic Research and Development (R&D). Currently, starting from the beginning of 2022, companies are obligated to spread deductions for investments in domestic R&D over a five-year period (15 years for foreign-sited R&D) under the policy known as R&D amortization, instituted by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The tax deal seeks to revert to full expensing for R&D conducted within the United States. This provision would apply retroactively for the 2022 and 2023 tax years and extend until the conclusion of 2025.

Temporary Full Expensing for Short-Lived Assets

The proposed legislation includes a temporary provision to reinstate 100 percent bonus depreciation for equipment and other short-lived capital assets. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), companies were initially allowed to fully deduct the cost of such short-lived investments immediately, starting from the fourth quarter of 2017 until the close of 2022. Subsequently, the deduction began to phase out by 20 percentage points each year. In 2023, companies could deduct 80 percent of their short-lived investment costs immediately, and this deduction is set to decrease further in subsequent years. The bill aims to retroactively restore 100 percent bonus depreciation for investments made since the end of 2022 and maintain this provision at 100 percent until the conclusion of 2025.

Temporary Child Tax Credit Expansions

For the tax years 2024 and 2025, the proposed bill entails adjustments to the maximum child tax credit to account for inflation, raising it from $2,000 to $2,100 in both years. As of the current 2023 tax year, if the child tax credit surpasses a taxpayer’s tax liability, they are eligible to receive up to $1,600 of the credit as a refund. This refund is determined based on an earned income formula, calculated as 15 percent of earned income exceeding $2,500.

The suggested changes include an increase in the limit on refundability from $1,600 to $1,800 for the tax year 2023, $1,900 in 2024, and $2,000 in 2025. Furthermore, an inflation adjustment is proposed for 2025, aligning the cap with the credit maximum of $2,100. The bill also accelerates the phase-in for taxpayers with multiple children and introduces an option for taxpayers to choose their prior-year earned income for calculating their maximum child tax credit.

It’s important to note that all four of these proposed changes to the child tax credit would expire after the conclusion of the year 2025.

Additional changes made by the bill

  • Restore a less restrictive limitation on business deductions for net interest expense, returning to a 30 percent limit based on EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) rather than EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes); the tighter limitation based on EBIT took effect beginning in 2022, and the proposal would allow companies an election to use the looser limitation for 2022 and 2023 and require the EBITDA-based limitation for 2024 and 2025
  • Increase the amount of low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) available to states by 12.5 percent and lower the bond-financing threshold for the credit from 50 percent to 30 percent from 2023 through 2025
  • Expand Section 179 expensing by increasing the maximum deduction from $1.16 million to $1.29 million and increasing the phaseout threshold from $2.89 million to $3.22 million for tax years beginning after 2023, with these levels indexed for inflation thereafter
  • Provide relief from double taxation for residents of Taiwan, consistent with standard bilateral treaties the U.S. has with many countries
  • Provide tax relief for losses and other situations related to qualified disaster areas or events
  • Gradually increase certain information reporting requirement thresholds from $600 to $1,000, adjusted for inflation after 2024

To offset the cost of the proposed tax cuts within the 10-year budget window, the bill outlines measures to enhance enforcement and make adjustments to the COVID-era Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). Currently, this credit can be claimed on amended returns until April 15, 2025, according to existing law.

The legislation proposes penalties for individuals or entities identified as “ERTC promoters” who have not adhered to the stipulated requirements for preparing ERTC claims. It also suggests an extension of the statute of limitations on assessments related to the ERTC.

Additionally, the bill aims to restrict claims for the ERTC after January 31, 2024, preventing further utilization of the credit beyond this specified date. These changes collectively contribute to the effort to fund the proposed tax cuts over the specified 10-year budget period.

Economic, Revenue, and Distributional Effects

The economic, revenue and distributional effects of the proposed changes were analyzed, focusing on adjustments to R&D expensing, bonus depreciation, the net interest limitation, and the child tax credit (excluding the CTC lookback provision). Revenue scores for the remaining provisions were sourced from estimates provided by the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). The results incorporate the 2022 and 2023 changes into the revenue and distributional outcomes for 2024, aligning with the timing of when the government and taxpayers would experience shifts in revenue and income.

Given the temporary nature of the alterations to R&D expensing, bonus depreciation, the net interest limitation, and the child tax credit, these policies are deemed not to have a lasting impact on investment or work decisions by businesses or individuals. Consequently, the analysis indicates that these policies would not exert any influence on the long-term economy, including parameters such as economic output, the capital stock, wages, or employment. The subsequent section delves into a discussion of the potential economic impact of these provisions if they were to be made permanent.

Long-Run Economic Effects of the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024

Based on conventional estimates, the tax deal is projected to be roughly revenue-neutral, generating approximately $40 million in revenue from 2024 through 2033. The revenue losses resulting from retroactively altering bonus depreciation, R&D expensing, the interest limitation, and the child tax credit amount to $110 billion. These losses are accounted for in the table for the year 2024 since that is when tax revenues would experience changes.

As previously noted, the major policies incorporated in the tax deal are set to expire after 2025, implying that they do not have a lasting impact on the economy. However, during their effective period, the improved cost recovery for Research and Development (R&D) and machinery investment is anticipated to enhance investment incentives. On a dynamic basis, considering the temporary increase in the capital stock within the budget window, it is estimated that the tax deal would result in a federal revenue increase of $6 billion from 2024 through 2033. The relatively modest magnitude of this revenue feedback highlights how temporary tax policies are not as effective in boosting long-term economic growth.

Revenue Effects of the Four Major Provisions of the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act (Billions of Dollars)

Distribution Effects of the Four Major Provisions

Economic Benefits

Positive Aspects:

  1. R&D Expensing and Bonus Depreciation: These provisions align with sound tax policy principles by simplifying the treatment of business costs and removing tax penalties for business investment. Expensing provides a powerful and broad-based incentive for substantial economic growth.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Expensing is considered more cost-effective for promoting growth compared to reducing the corporate tax rate. It offers a more targeted tax cut, focusing only on the returns to new capital.

Challenges and Considerations:

  1. Temporary Nature: The temporary extensions of R&D expensing and bonus depreciation through 2025 may create uncertainty for businesses, as long-term incentives depend on the expectation of policy extensions beyond that timeframe.
  2. Retroactive Changes: A substantial portion of the revenue cost is applied retroactively, serving as a windfall to taxpayers. While retroactive relief may address liquidity problems for some small businesses, it creates no incentive for future investment.
  3. Child Tax Credit Expansion: The proposed expansion of the child tax credit is narrower than the 2021 expansion. While it preserves work incentives, concerns are raised about potential reductions in work incentives due to the option to use the previous year’s income to qualify for the credit.
  4. ERTC Enforcement Tightening: Tightening enforcement around the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is seen as warranted, considering the program’s escalating costs and issues with fraudulent claims during the pandemic.
  5. Inflation Consideration: The revenue-neutral nature of the package is seen as mitigating its potential impact on inflation. However, if policies are extended beyond 2025, lawmakers are advised to seek legitimate payfors to address any fiscal costs.

Conclusion:

While acknowledging positive aspects such as the restoration of expensing for R&D and business equipment investment, the author expresses concern about the temporary and retroactive nature of the changes. The argument is made that permanent and stable policies would provide greater economic gains by treating business investment as a key driver of long-term economic growth.

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice, consult an attorney for legal advice or contact us.

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