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$800 million for GM?

DCX also would get millions under tax refund bill

WASHINGTON — General Motors would get an immediate tax refund of more than $800 million if an economic stimulus bill under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives becomes law, according to a nonprofit research group.

An analysis by the group, Citizens for Tax Justice, showed that the Republican-authored bill would give each of 13 large corporations more than $100 million if lawmakers and President Bush agree to refund alternative minimum tax credits.

GM was the only automaker on the list compiled by Citizens for Tax Justice. The group said GM's refund would be $833 million. But DaimlerChrysler acknowledged on Wednesday, Oct. 17, that it also would be eligible for about $600 million in refunds. Figures for other automakers were not immediately available.

GM spokesman Mike Morrissey said the refund number is "a little high," but he could not immediately say what figure the company believes is correct.

Nevertheless, GM does strongly favor repeal of the alternative minimum tax, or AMT, and the refunding of AMT credits, which would be source of the break for GM, he said.

"This is exactly what a stimulus package is supposed to do — inject money right back into the economy," he said.

But Robert McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, said, "Throwing some money off a building might do some good, too."

Refunding AMT credits rewards companies for having avoided paying taxes for the past 15 years, he contended.

The alternative minimum tax was enacted in 1986 so that companies could not use deductions and other provisions of tax law to avoid paying any tax. Companies accumulate credits for the alternative minimum taxes they pay. Normally, the credits can be used to offset regular corporate income taxes when such obligations exceed the AMT. The House GOP bill would refund the credits.

The proposed refund is just one part of a $103 billion economic stimulus bill that was to be considered by the full House of Representatives this week.

That schedule was altered Wednesday, Oct. 17, when lawmakers decided to recess so their Capitol Hill buildings could be thoroughly tested for the presence of the anthrax virus.

Whether the refund provision for GM and other companies stays in the legislation is unclear. Democratic leaders have criticized the measure as a giveaway to business, and even President Bush has said the House bill may be too large.

Other breaks for businesses would include:

  • a 30 percent bonus deduction for capital spending for three years.

  • an extension of the carryback of operating losses from two years to five years.

  • an increase in the small business expensing limit.
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