Businesses Receive Numerous Tax Breaks in 2015 Budget Deal

The end of 2015 brought several gifts from Congress and the President to businesses of all sizes. The 2000 plus page bipartisan budget agreement is full of tax breaks to help businesses in the coming years. Many of these provisions were already on the books, but were about to expire at the end of this year. Some were extended, and others were made permanent. Tax Debt

Here are five tax provisions that will benefit businesses the most in the coming years:

Permanent Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit: The R&D tax credit under Section 41 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) began as a temporary credit in 1981 and has been extended 16 times since its original implementation, often retroactively. The problem with this credit being temporary is it made it difficult for companies to budget for researching and developing new products and technologies. Making this credit permanent provides the certainty businesses have wanted for several decades; and according to many experts, it will ease R&D tax concerns and allow U.S. companies to focus on developing more innovations in future years.

Permanent Section 179 Expensing Limit of $500,000 on Machinery and Equipment: Since 2010, small businesses have been allowed to deduct up to $500,000 in machinery and equipment costs in a single year. This limit was set to revert back to $25,000 on January 1, 2016. This bill makes the $500,000 expensing limit permanent and indexes it for inflation, providing greater certainty for companies when considering major purchases such as heavy machinery, trucks and other business equipment.

Extension of Bonus Depreciation through 2019: Since 2009, bonus depreciation of business machinery and equipment has been available for businesses of all sizes. The 2015 budget agreement extends this tax break through 2019. For qualifying equipment purchased and put into use in tax years 2015, 2016 and 2017, bonus depreciation remains at 50%. For tax year 2018, it is reduced to 40%, then to 30% in 2019 before being phased out in 2020 (if Congress does not extend it).

Delayed Implementation of 3 Health Care Taxes: Three taxes that are part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (aka Obamacare) are delayed under this bill. The 2.3% excise tax on medical devices is suspended for tax years 2016 and 2017, the 40% excise tax on high value health plans (aka “Cadillac” plans) is suspended until 2020, and the tax on health insurers is delayed for one year. These delays are a boon for medical device companies as well as companies that want to provide premium health insurance plans for their employees. It is widely believed that there will be an effort in future years to make these changes permanent.

Permanent Tax Break for Landlord, Restaurant Owners, and Retailer Improvements: Under this bill, the ability for landlords to depreciate improvements (such as building alterations made to suit a particular tenant) over 15 years is made permanent. This is particularly common with commercial tenants such as restaurants and retailers. Without this change, they would have had to revert back to a 39-year depreciation schedule.

Though the recent budget deal included some controversial measures that prompted many lawmakers in both parties to vote against it, it contains several positive tax changes for businesses. To find out how these changes may benefit your particular company, speak with your tax accounting firm.

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