[Hpn] Poor Communities Bill awaits President's expected signature (fwd)
Fri, 22 Dec 2000 13:12:04 -0800 (PST)
Does funding for "Empowerment ZONES" help "Poor PEOPLE" in poor comunities?
Who benefits and loses _most_ from federal funding for Empowerment Zones?
FWD AP Top News - 15 December 2000
Poor Communities Bill Nears Passage
by CURT ANDERSON
AP Tax Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hoping to ignite economic growth in stubborn
pockets of poverty, Congress passed legislation Friday authorizing
tax breaks to create jobs, provide venture capital for development
and clean up pollution in dozens of downtrodden communities.
President Clinton has already signaled his support, calling the
initiative ''the most significant effort ever to help hard-pressed
communities lift themselves up through private investment and
The House passed the measure 292-60. The Senate passed it by
''Whether a community is rural or urban, it should share in the
prosperity that we as a nation have achieved,'' said Rep. Charles
Rangel, D-N.Y. ''This legislation helps open our success to those
areas that have been historically left behind.''
The House and Senate approved the $25.8 billion, 10-year package
before adjourning for the year, a rare bipartisan accomplishment on
tax legislation. It was attached to an emerging overall budget
agreement that has eluded Congress since the Oct. 1 start of the
new fiscal year.
''I am gratified that we could get this legislation done for
those people who want a better life for their families,'' said
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. ''This legislation will serve
as a model of bipartisan cooperation for years to come.''
Congress also gave final passage late Friday to a bill repealing
a 1999 rule that has forced thousands of small business owners to
pay capital gains taxes in lump sums when they sell their
businesses, even if the buyer is paying in annual installments. The
bill, which costs $2.1 billion over 10 years, fixes what many
lawmakers consider a mistake.
''It should serve as a lesson to all politicians who talk about
closing loopholes,'' said Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, retiring
chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. ''Closing loopholes
is always a good sound bite for politicians, whereas the real-life
result is usually a bigger tax bite.''
Partisan differences between Democrats and Republicans killed
several broader tax cuts, but Clinton and Hastert were able to keep
a commitment they made earlier this year on the anti-poverty
''It will represent a remarkable achievement at the end of this
year,'' said White House spokesman Jake Siewert.
Specifically, the bill will:
--Authorize designation of 40 new ''renewal communities'',
including 12 in rural areas, where tax breaks apply including a
zero capital gains rate, a 15 percent wage credit and higher
business expense write-off limits.
The final bill omitted language inserted in previous versions by
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., that would have
required one of the communities to be Madison County, Miss. -- where
Nissan is building an auto plant.
--Extend through Dec. 31, 2009, the current ''empowerment
zones,'' which enjoy tax benefits similar to those in the new
renewal communities. Nine more empowerment zones will be
--Create a ''New Markets'' tax credit for investments in entities
involved in development in low-income areas. About $8 billion in
investments would be eligible for the credit over the next seven
--Extend until Jan. 1, 2004, tax deductions for cleanup of
contaminated ''brownfield'' sites, which are frequently old
industrial areas that could be used anew by job-creating
--Raise the limits on tax credits for construction or renovation
of housing for low-income people.
--Extend through 2003 an expiring charitable tax deduction for
companies that donate computers and other equipment to schools and
public libraries. Initially worded in a way that specifically
helped computer maker Gateway Inc., the provision was changed to
make it apply more broadly, Archer said.
--Permit faith-based substance abuse treatment programs
nationwide to receive federal assistance ''without discrimination
based on the religious character of the program.''
As with most tax bills, the legislation also includes several
unrelated items, including a two-year extension of tax deductible
medical savings accounts people can use to plan financially for
future health expenses. These were set to expire on Dec. 31.
The measure also reflects an adjustment of the consumer price
index due to a computer mistake in data published by the Labor
Department, which slightly affected the increase in government
benefits for programs such as Social Security. The change will cost
the government $5.7 billion over 10 years.
In addition, it includes a provision enabling parents to
continue claiming a kidnapped child as a dependent on tax returns.
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