Senate passes tax cut package: Includes GO Zone extension

WASHINGTON, DC (AP/WLOX) - The Senate has passed a sweeping tax package that would save millions of Americans thousands of dollars in higher taxes for the next two years while also reducing their Social Security taxes and extending jobless benefits. The $858 billion package also extends development incentives for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The tax package now goes to the House, where many Democrats are unhappy with a provision that allows estates as large as $10 million to pass to heirs tax-free. Democratic leaders, however, say they expect the bill to ultimately pass and become law.

Mississippi Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker voted in favor of the bill.

"This is not a perfect piece of legislation, but I think it will help build a stronger economy, lower unemployment rates and provide more certainty for businesses to operate.  I am pleased we have dealt with this tax issue so that we can come back in the next Congress and address difficult and necessary decisions about spending and deficit control," Cochran said.

Wicker described the legislation as one of the steps needed to get the nation's economic stability.

"Raising taxes on any American family or small business would further strain our weak economic recovery. Extending the existing tax rates helps create stability so businesses can invest and hire. Preventing the largest tax hike from hitting Americans is one of the many steps we need to get our economy back on track," Wicker said.

As part of the tax extension package, the Gulf Opportunity Zone (GO Zone) will be extended until the end of 2011.

"This bill will continue the availability of the pro-growth GO Zone tax incentives for the continued rebuilding of areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina and now the oil spill.  These tax incentives have proven useful in promoting commercial and housing development recovery in Mississippi," Cochran said.

The GO Zone allows for tax-exempt bonds and bonus depreciation tax incentive, which have been used to support recovery efforts following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  The package also extends the GO Zone historic rehabilitation tax credit and low income housing tax credit through 2011.

"These GO Zone provisions provide important tools to spur economic development in the hard hit areas along the Gulf," Cochran said.

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