President Obama on December 18 signed legislation a combined tax-extender package, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, totaling over $600 billion, along with a $1.1-trillion omnibus spending bill. Both bills were merged in the Senate and the bill is referred to as the Omnibus Appropriations Act (HR 2029). The bill was sent to the president after the Senate passed the PATH Act on December 18 by a margin of 65 to 33. Earlier in the day, the House passed the omnibus spending legislation separately by a vote of 316 to 113. The House approved the PATH Act on December 17.
The tax-extenders measure extends over 50 provisions, making some of them permanent. Those provisions include the research and development credit, enhanced Code Sec. 179 expensing and the Child Tax Credit. Some provisions, including bonus depreciation, were extended for five years, and over 25 other provisions through 2016. The $622-billion PATH Act also includes over 60 other provisions on miscellaneous topics, including real estate investment trusts and tax administration. Overall, the PATH Act calls for making permanent over 20 tax-extender benefits, split 50-50 between business and individuals.
The Omnibus Appropriations Act provides $11.235 billion for funding of IRS operations, $290 million (3 percent) more than the fiscal year 2015 level. The agreement directs that the funds provided above the fiscal year 2015 level be devoted to making measurable improvements in the customer service representative level of service rate, improving the identification and prevention of refund fraud and identity theft, and enhancing cyber security to safeguard taxpayer data.
“By passing this important tax package that provides permanent relief for American families and job creators, we cap a year of historic policy victories under the Republican-led Senate and lay the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform moving forward. Congress is back to work for the American people,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement.
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