Bill to extend Bush-era tax cuts signed into law; ABLE act not included

On December 17, President Obama signed H.R. 4853, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. Despite objections by some House Members to the estate tax provisions and the extension of the tax breaks to the highest income Americans, it cleared by a comfortable 277-148 vote margin. The compromise tax deal extends for two years the expiring tax cuts for all Americans and several expiring corporate and individual tax breaks. Other major provisions include a one year reauthorization of federal unemployment insurance benefits and a continuation of the emergency unemployment compensation benefits. The law also includes a payroll tax holiday during 2011 when individuals will pay two percentage points less on their Social Security payroll tax.

Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) offered the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2009 (S. 493) as an amendment to the tax bill. However, the effort was not successful for reasons unrelated to the merits of the proposal. As a result, the ABLE Act was not included in the final bill that was signed by President Obama. The ABLE Act would allow parents and individuals with disabilities to save money in special bank accounts (similar to educational savings accounts) without affecting federal benefits. The bill has significant bipartisan support in both the House (H.R. 1205) and Senate and is expected to receive attention early in the 112th Congress.

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