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2013 Legislative Agenda : Getting Things Done

January 2013 By Erik Cagle, senior editor

Now that the egg nog has dried up, the fruitcake has been mercifully thrown away and the last of the pine needles from the tree have been vacuumed, it's time for the U.S. government to get off its duff and get back to work. President Obama is about to embark on his second term and, absent a palace coup, Congress will need to work with him in the coming years to help provide meaningful—and much-needed—legislation.

We've got Lisbeth Lyons, vice president of Government Affairs at Printing Industries of America (PIA), to walk us through with some of the most pressing issues from the printing industry standpoint. Some of the topics are fluid and impact a large swath of Americans as opposed to just printers, while other issues are more localized in terms of scope. A couple of big-ticket items were still in process at press time that will have major ramifications (hint: Mr. ZIP is back in Washington).

Tax Reform

If you never heard the phrase "fiscal cliff" ever uttered again, would you be overjoyed? If you said yes, join the other 285 million Americans sickened by the back-and-forth banter between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner concerning the raising of income taxes and draconian cuts in spending. Fortunately, Congress avoided the fiscal cliff by reaching an accord just as the new year came.

The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)—the 40-year-old rule that ensures wealthy people pay some level of taxes—was permanently indexed for inflation. In the past, Congress "patched" it every year or so. Fortunately for many Americans, minimum income levels subject to the AMT went up; however, the wealthiest Americans won't be able to take as many deductions as previously.

The estate tax saw a permanent extension of the 2010 tax law on portability and unification, with a $5 million exemption indexed for inflation (now $5.12 million) and a 40 percent top rate. A one-year extension was also made on the 50 percent bonus depreciation.

Lyons points out that Congress had flirted with looking at corporate tax reform and lowering the corporate rate, a move Obama supports. Still, whether corporate and individual reform is attacked as either a package or separately, action needs to be taken on both fronts. Many printers are pass-through entities and S corporations, paying at the individual level—so both individual and corporate conversations are of great interest.

 

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