The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Community News Network

January 3, 2013

From NASCAR to rum, the 10 weirdest parts of the 'fiscal cliff' bill

By now, we've heard all about the big stuff in the fiscal cliff bill that finally passed on Tuesday. The Bush tax cuts will become permanent for all individual income below $400,000 (and family income below $450,000). The sequester spending cuts will be delayed two months. And so on.

But Congress also managed to include all sorts of corporate tax breaks and other arcane provisions into the final bill, covering everything from electric scooters to NASCAR racetracks to taking the subway to work. Most of these tax breaks were already longstanding provisions - Congress has been working to renew them all year. They're just being extended again for another year (or sometimes two), at a total cost of roughly $77 billion.

So let's take a look at 10 of the more curious tax provisions in the fiscal cliff bill-it offers some insight into how messy the tax code is, and will continue to be for another year.

1. A $9 billion "sop for Wall Street banks and major multinationals"

Check out Section 322 of the bill. "Extension of the Active Financing Exception to Subpart F." Sounds dull, right? Not quite.

As Dan Eggen has reported, this provision, first created in 1997, allows manufacturers and banks to defer taxes when they engage in a special type of financial transactions known as "active financing." The break now costs $9 billion per year, and critics claim it encourages firms to create jobs overseas. But it's a top lobbying priority for companies like GE and JP Morgan, who say that it helps them compete abroad, and it will get extended another year.

Now, there are a ton of other costly business tax breaks in the deal, too, from tax credits for R&D to bonus depreciation (which studies have found are ineffective at stimulating the economy). But the $9 billion active financing credit was arguably the hardest-fought.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Why a see-through mouse is a big deal for scientists

    A group of Caltech researchers announced in Cell Thursday their success in making an entire organism transparent. Unfortunately, this isn't any kind of "Invisible Man" scenario: The organism in question is a mouse, and the mouse in question is quite dead.

    July 31, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014