With the prospects of a comprehensive U.S. tax legislative package unlikely, one possible path for Congress is the consideration of smaller, more targeted pieces of legislation. One possibility of such targeted tax legislation might be passing tax extenders. Another possible package of tax legislation might include provisions aimed at providing relief from the recent COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and as the country has tackled the many variants, the impact of the virus has been tough on smaller businesses, particularly those that provide services to people, such as restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels and fitness centers/sports clubs.

While no formal legislation has been introduced specifically related to the Omicron variant, if a bill picks up steam, we might see provisions such as employment tax credits, travel incentives or temporary changes to the meal and entertainment cap.

With the Build Back Better bill now a recent memory, members of both parties in the House and Senate may find additional targeted COVID-19 tax relief more appealing. Members of Congress hear from constituents daily regarding their struggles with the impact COVID-19 has had on their lives and on their livelihoods. Pressing ahead with a package of targeted tax relief might be just what many taxpayers need. It may also be just what Congress needs to show it can respond to the needs of Americans in a bipartisan, bicameral basis.

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Helpful Articles Tax

Claiming Available Tax Credits for Businesses

The U.S. offers a variety of tax credits and other incentives to encourage employment and investment, often in targeted industries or areas such as innovation and technology, renewable energy and low-income or distressed communities. Many states and localities also offer tax incentives. Businesses should make sure they are claiming all available tax credits for 2021 and begin exploring new tax credit opportunities for 2022.

  • The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a refundable payroll tax credit for qualifying employers that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Employers that received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan can claim the ERC but the same wages cannot be used for both programs. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021, retroactively ends the ERC on September 30, 2021, for most employers.
  • Businesses that incur expenses related to qualified research and development (R&D) activities are eligible for the federal R&D credit.
  • Taxpayers that reinvest capital gains in Qualified Opportunity Zones may be able to defer the federal tax due on the capital gains. An additional 10% gain exclusion also may apply if the investment is made by December 31, 2021. The investment must be made within a certain period after the disposition giving rise to the gain.
  • The New Markets Tax Credit Program provides federally funded tax credits for approved investments in low-income communities that are made through certified “Community Development Entities.”
  • Other incentives for employers include the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, the Federal Empowerment Zone Credit, the Indian Employment Credit and credits for paid family and medical leave (FMLA).

There are several federal tax benefits available for investments to promote energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives. In addition, the Build Back Better Act proposes to extend and enhance certain green energy credits as well as introduce a variety of new incentives. The proposals also would introduce the ability for taxpayers to elect cash payments in lieu of certain credits and impose prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements in the determination of certain credit amounts.

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Early Priority for the Biden Administration: Improving Infrastructure

The Biden administration has officially been in office for 100 days.

In what is typically a period characterized by a flurry of executive orders that establish early policy priorities, President Joe Biden has understandably focused much of his energy on one of the most pressing challenges the United States has faced in generations: bringing an effective end to the COVID-19 crisis.

During the first three months in office, the Administration has been able to accelerate vaccination distribution after a record-speed vaccine development process, offering hope of a world less impacted by the spread of the pandemic.

However, with 100 days now in the rearview mirror, the Biden administration is setting its sights on the future—one in which the United States still faces both short- and long-term challenges that would be daunting for any administration. From continuing to chip away at a COVID-heightened unemployment rate to addressing domestic and social unrest to thinking through a climate change strategy, the Administration has its hands full over the next few years. With a challenging midterm election on the horizon, the motivation to advance its agenda quickly and decisively is top of mind.

For business leaders, the intersection between politics, economy, consumer behavior, public health, social issues and environmental issues has never been so large—or important. Businesses will continue to be tested in ways that they could not have imagined just a few years ago. Those that can navigate these challenges well will come out ahead.

While there are dozens of policies that will unfold over the next four years, there are several key areas for leaders to watch in the short term and consider for future opportunities and challenges that arise. One of these key areas is outlined below.

Priority: Building Back Better

On the campaign trail, then-candidate Biden outlined his vision of an infrastructure plan dubbed the “Build Back Better” plan.

The new bill, announced in full in late March as the American Jobs Plan, includes several proposed investments in both traditional and modern infrastructure systems.

  • Roads & bridges
  • Public Transport
  • Ports
  • Airports
  • Nationwide electric vehicle charging grid
  • Water Systems
  • Electric Grid Upgrades
  • Increased Broadband Access

In addition, President Biden is pushing for investment in care for elderly and disabled Americans, new affordable housing and schools, and funding for manufacturing, R&D and job training.

The Biden administration has argued that decades of a lack of investment has left the United States lagging behind others when it comes to competitiveness on the global stage. In particular, the Administration sees this as an opportunity to level the playing field, financing more projects in rural and disadvantaged communities, with a focus on sustainability and “clean infrastructure” investments.

Infrastructure is often seen as a “both-sides-of-the-aisle” issue, yet an agreement has recently been hard to come by. Whether President Biden and his team—particularly Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg—will be able to galvanize both sides of the aisle to come together on this shared goal of fixing the widely acknowledged problem of the United States’ aging infrastructure remains to be seen.

Interested to see what else the Biden administration is prioritizing? Read this article from BDO.