The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the package of tax incentives known as the America Gives More Act, H.R. 644, by a vote of 279 to 137. All Republicans but one voted for the bill, as well as 39 Democrats. While the bill passed, it fell short of the 290-vote super majority needed to avoid a presidential veto.
Four bills were packaged as one and called H.R. 644. These bills include:
“We’re talking about extending tax breaks that have routinely been extended for years,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) during the debate before the vote. “We’re simply saying let’s make sure that people who have a benefit know and can calculate and make business decisions early in the year instead of scrambling at the end.”
The next step would be for the bill to go to the U.S. Senate, but the senate leaders have said it will not take up the bill. Instead, the senate will focus on comprehensive tax reform, according to David L. Thompson, vice president of public policy at the National Council of Nonprofits in Washington, D.C.
Democrats’ objections were two fold, said Thompson. First, they wanted the tax incentives offset with either tax hikes or spending cuts elsewhere. Second, they believe tax reform should be holistic instead of piecemeal.
“No one questioned the language,” said Thompson. “My optimistic view is, there will obviously be give and take on comprehensive reform, but the easiest and most rational thing to do with charitable tax provisions is this language will go in. We’ll have to fight for it, but I’d say this is now the comprehensive tax reform language (for charitable tax incentives).”
Added Steve Taylor, senior vice president for public policy at the Alexandria, Va.-based United Way Worldwide: “When you listen to the debate about these bills on their merits, it is clear there is overwhelming support for the work of charities on both sides of the aisle. This legislation has forced members of Congress to think about charities and the work charities do, and for many of them to articulate a position on that. Not surprisingly, most of them concluded that charities do important work in this country.”
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