Senate Democrats

Reid: Renewable Energy Tax Credits Will Make America More Energy Independent And Create Jobs Here At Home

Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after the U.S. Senate passed the Jobs, Energy, Families, and Disaster Relief Act of 2008:

“I am pleased that Senate Republicans have finally recognized – after blocking nine Democratic efforts to invest in clean, renewable energy sources – the importance of making America more energy independent, strengthening our national security and creating good-paying jobs here at home.  This bill will help us harness the power of the wind, the sun, geothermal and other sources of clean, renewable energy.  And by protecting millions of Americans from the AMT, we are also giving tax cuts to those who need it most – the middle class and private sector innovators, not multibillion-dollar oil companies.

“It is disconcerting, however, that Senator McCain remains silent on the important issue of making America more energy efficient.  It seems he cannot choose between protecting his friends in the oil industry and protecting our nation and environment.  Fortunately for the American people, the majority of Congress has chosen to do the right thing in his absence.”

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Highlights of the Senate Democratic Tax Cut Bill:

The Senate Democratic Tax Cut Bill Invests In Renewable Energy Innovation and Jobs. The Senate tax cut bill extends the placed-in service date for the credit through December 31, 2009 in the case of wind and refined coal, and through December 31, 2010 in the case of other sources.  The measure extends the 30 percent investment tax credit for solar energy property and qualified fuel cell property, as well as the 10 percent investment tax credit for micro-turbines, through 2016. The bill extends the credit for residential solar property through 2016, and removes the credit cap (currently $2,000) for solar electric investments. The bill increases the $500 per half kilowatt of capacity cap for qualified fuel cells to $1,500 per half kilowatt of capacity, and adds small commercial wind as a category of qualified investment. The bill adds residential small wind investment, capped at $4,000, and geothermal heat pumps, capped at $2,000, as qualifying property.  With respect to vehicles, the bill establishes a new credit for plug-in electric drive vehicles and the credit for passenger vehicles and light trucks ranges from $2,500 to $7,500. [Senate Finance Committee, 9/17/08; HR 6049, 2008]

The Senate Democratic Tax Cut Bill Extends the Child Tax Credit to More Families with Children. Currently, a taxpayer receives a $1,000 tax credit for each qualifying child under the age of 17. If the amount of a taxpayer’s child tax credit is greater than the amount of the taxpayer’s income tax, the taxpayer may receive a refund if the income threshold is met. Currently, the income threshold for child tax credit refundability is $12,050. The bill lowers the threshold to $8,500 for the 2008 tax year so that a greater number of families with children can benefit from the child tax credit. [Senate Finance Committee, 9/17/08; HR 6049, 2008]

The Senate Democratic Tax Cut Bill Extends Tax Relief to Middle-Class Families.  The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemption is not indexed for inflation and its value at limiting the AMT’s reach has diminished over the years.  In the past few years Congress has enacted temporary increases to the exemption to limit the number of taxpayers affected by the AMT.  The measure increases the AMT exemption amounts to $46,200 for individual taxpayers and $69.950 for married couples.  The proposal also includes relief for those taxpayers facing AMT liabilities as a result of the exercise of incentive stock options. [Senate Finance Committee, 9/17/08; HR 6049, 2008]

The Senate Democratic Tax Cut Bill Provides Relief for Students and Teachers. The bill extends through 2009 the provision allowing teachers an above-the-line deduction for up to $250 for out-of-pocket costs incurred for school supplies. The measure also extends the qualified tuition deduction, for higher education expenses, for an additional two years. In addition, the measure doubles the credit amount for Hope Scholarship to $3,000 and doubles the Lifetime Learning Credit percentage from 20 percent to 40 percent of $4,000 for students attending undergraduate or graduate institutions in the Midwestern disaster area. [Senate Finance Committee, 9/17/08; HR 6049, 2008]

The Senate Democratic Tax Cut Bill Provides Disaster Relief Assistance. The proposal provides tax relief for victims of the Midwestern disaster in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The proposals are applicable to floods, severe storms, and tornadoes that are declared by FEMA on or after May 20, 2008, and before August 1, 2008.  The bill also includes a national package of tax relief for victims in federally-declared disaster areas for 2008 and 2009.  This tax relief includes expanded deductibility of casualty losses and faster write-offs for reinvestments in these areas. [Senate Finance Committee, 9/17/08; HR 6049]

 The Senate Measure Provides Parity for Those Seeking Mental Health Services. This measure would require private insurance plans that offer mental health benefits as part of the coverage to offer such benefits on par with the medical surgical benefits. Any cost-sharing or benefit limits imposed on mental health services must not be any more restrictive than those imposed on med/surg services.  [Senate Finance Committee, 9/17/08]

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