For the auto companies, the dreaded fiscal cliff was more like a speed bump
After surviving a presidential campaign in which candidates used General Motors, Jeep and Tesla as talking points, auto executives headed into the holidays simply wishing to be left alone by politicians.
When Congress reconvened after Christmas to steer the nation away from the much-feared fiscal cliff, the auto industry stayed under the radar.
The deal struck on New Year’s Day stopped tax increases and spending cuts that might have crippled the economy and kept buyers out of car dealerships. The 157-page bill was littered with legal tweaks and tax credits deemed crucial to the economy, though none was sufficiently noteworthy to elicit praise or condemnation from automakers.
The bill extended a tax credit for two- and three-wheeled electric scooters, and the $7,500 credit for four-wheeled electric cars remained untouched. Credits for electric charging stations and biofuels were extended -- and, in terms of autos, that was about it.
Some dealers were irked because the bill included an increase to the estate tax. For the next decade, the top rate will be 40 percent, 5 percentage points higher than the 2012 rate, though it is 15 points shy of what it would have been had the United States gone over the cliff and returned to Clinton-era rates.
“We’re not satisfied with 10 full years of this,” said Libby Newman, a spokeswoman for the American International Automobile Dealers Association.
Dealer groups again plan to push for repeal of the estate tax when Congress negotiates a broader tax plan this year.