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Hartford Courant: Larson, Courtney Hail Year-end Tax Bill As Compromise

December 17, 2015
In The News

U.S. Representatives John B. Larson and Joe Courtney are hailing the passage of a major tax bill that helps companies in Connecticut, as well as the poor.

The so-called tax extender package was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a wide margin Thursday, and it still requires approval by the Senate and President Barack Obama.

But Larson said it was a key step forward at a time when many bills are bottled up in the often-complicated ways of Washington, D.C.

"It's progress, as opposed to gridlock,'' Larson said in a telephone interview from the U.S. Capitol. "While it's not the way I would have written the bill and it doesn't have everything I'd like in it ... it does contain some incredibly vital things. ... These are big steps, big compromises, and should help the overall economy and the Connecticut economy.''

One of the big items is the permanent extension of the research and development tax credit, which would help companies such as Farmington-based United Technologies Corp. and General Dynamics, which builds submarines in Groton. Another major research company is General Electric, which has threatened to move its longtime headquarters out of Fairfield and expects to have a decision by year's end.

"R&D tax credits have the ability to pay for themselves,'' Larson said. "In my backyard with UTRC and Jackson Labs and all the places, this will be a huge plus for the state of Connecticut.''

In the battle over the legislation, items such as giving Puerto Rico the ability to restructure its debt were taken out of the bill in the final version.

Larson and Courtney were joined by fellow Connecticut Democrats Elizabeth Esty and Rosa DeLauro in voting for a tax package that was sharply opposed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic whip Steny Hoyer. Greenwich Democrat Jim Himes voted against the measure in the 318-109 vote.

Other major items in the bill were the preservation of billions of dollars for the Child Tax Credit and the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.

"The key thing to both of these is these were going to lapse,'' Larson said. "The issues were all going to lapse. They would all go off the books.''

Courtney said the end-of-year tax provisions were important.

“I am pleased that the Congress was able to reach an acceptable bipartisan compromise today to extend a number of tax provisions important to low and middle-income Americans, as well as the small businesses that drive our economy,” said Courtney. “The agreement today makes permanent the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit which were set to expire in 2017 had we not acted, as well as the Research and Development credit which is critical to many cutting-edge industries and small-startups across the country and in Connecticut.''

He added, "I was particularly pleased that the mortgage debt forgiveness provision, which is a critical tool to keep the Connecticut real estate market moving forward, was extended for two years. While not a perfect compromise, it should provide some much needed stability and confidence for our economy as we head into the New Year.”

The Senate could act on the package as early as Friday.