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Op-Ed: Tax Cuts On Tax Day


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As we mark the passage of another Tax Day, we should recap tax cuts enacted by this Congress. All totaled, more than $800 billion in tax cuts.

More than one-third of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was tax relief for middle class families, including the Making Work Pay credit -- one of the most widely accessible tax cuts in history. The Recovery Act was also contained significant tax cuts to help businesses start hiring again. Included in the Recovery Act were:

* Making Work Pay credit: 95% of working families are receiving this credit, which means $400 less in taxes for individuals and $800 less for married couples. You've probably already seen the effects of this credit in your paycheck.
* College expenses: Families and students can claim up to $2,500 to pay for college expenses.
* First home purchase: If you bought your first home by April 30 of this year, you can claim an $8,000 deduction.
* Energy efficiency incentives: If you've made your home more energy efficient through steps like adding insulation or energy-efficient windows, you're probably already saving money on your energy bills. Now, you can also claim a $1,500 tax credit.
* New vehicle purchases: If you bought a new vehicle between February 17 and December 31 of last year, you can deduct the state and local sales taxes from your federal tax return.
* Family tax credits: If you're a moderate-income family, the Recovery Act increased your tax credits: the Earned Income Tax Credit is now $5,657, and it's now easier to claim the Child Tax Credit.
* Tax-free unemployment benefits: Unemployment benefits are usually taxable--but if you were looking for work last year, the Recovery Act made the first $2,400 in unemployment benefits tax-free.
* Small Business Investment: Spurs investments in small businesses by cutting the capital gains tax on investors in small businesses who buy stock (in the next two years) and hold it for more than 5 years.
* Small Business Expensing: Spurs small business investment by extending small business expensing, doubling the amount small businesses can immediately write off their taxes for capital investments and purchases of new equipment made in 2009 ($125,000 to $250,000). This write-off phases out completely for investments over $800,000 (up from $500,000).

Congress and the President remain focused on our top priority -- putting people to work. We have aided small businesses with critical tax credits so they can expand, add more employees, and thrive into the future. And in passing health insurance reform last month, we enacted the largest health care tax cut in history, providing 40 million middle class families with tax credits to help pay for health care coverage and $40 billion in tax credits for 4 million small businesses to help them offer coverage to their employees.

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