Moving to allay uncertainty about the 2014 tax year, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to renew a wide-ranging package of temporary tax breaks, known as the "extenders," postponing further debate on them to 2015.
The 55-item package of tax breaks includes ones for business research costs and depreciation schedules, multinational corporations' tax avoidance strategies, teachers, commuters, green energy, racehorse owners and Hollywood studios.
The House approved the package by a 378-46 vote.
The renewal would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014. That means U.S. taxpayers would be able to claim the tax breaks for 2014, if the Senate and President Barack Obama concur.
The extenders expired at the end of 2013. The House's renewal bill would be valid only until the end of this year. So the tax breaks would expire again within weeks, setting up another fight over their long-term future next year in Congress.
"I am hopeful today's bill will help lay the groundwork for the House and Senate to continue their work to fix our broken tax code through tax reform," Republican House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement immediately after the vote.
The renewal marked a retreat by House Republicans from months of trying to make some business-related extender provisions permanent, including one for corporate research.
A tentative bipartisan deal along those lines collapsed last week after the White House issued a veto threat, with some Democrats and Obama seeing the broader deal as too costly and too slanted in favor of business interests.
Some analysts said there was still a chance the Senate might seek a broader extenders agreement, but that was a long shot with less than a week remaining before Congress adjourns for the December holidays and other pressing issues on the agenda.
Next year, Republicans will control both the House and Senate, improving their chances of reshaping the extenders package, viewed by both parties as emblematic of a broken, loophole-riddled U.S. tax code that badly needs reform.
In the meantime, the stop-gap renewal backed by the House would prevent "disruption for taxpayers trying to file their 2014 tax returns" in months ahead, said Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means tax committee, in a statement.
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