And Now, On To The Next Round Of Tax Cuts

By John S. McClenahen Washington business lobbyists are celebrating the death by the year 2010 of the so-called death tax, more formally known as the estate tax. The phaseout provision is part of the $1.35 trillion tax-cut legislation passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush during the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. Elimination of the estate tax had been a top legislative priority of such powerful business groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Assn. of Manufacturers, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Associated General Contractors of America. When Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess next week, education reform is expected to be the top legislative priority. But the next round of tax reform also is likely to start taking shape. For example, high-tech manufacturers will press the House and Senate to make permanent the current R&D corporate income tax credit, a provision that did not make it through the conference committee that assembled the just-enacted tax-cut package. There's likely as well to be an attempt to reform the current capital-cost-recovery system in order to stimulate business investment and boost productivity. For example, Rep. Gerald C. Weller (R, Ill.) has already introduced legislation (H.R. 1411) that would allow wireless telecommunications equipment, advanced-services equipment, network system equipment, and computer software to be written-off in the tax year in which they are placed into service. A complete overhaul of the depreciation system is still being talked about on Capitol Hill. But with Congress now split -- the Democrats controlling the Senate and the House remaining Republican -- putting together a majority for passage will be tougher than previously expected.

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