Today, President Bush Signed The Tax Relief And Health Care Act Of 2006. This Act will extend tax relief for millions of American families and small businesses, and add momentum to our growing economy. It will maintain key tax reforms, expand our commitment to renewable energy resources, make it easier for Americans to afford health insurance, and help open markets overseas for our farmers and small businesses.
The American Economy Is Strong, Productive, And Prosperous. The most recent jobs report shows that our economy created 132,000 jobs in November alone, and we have added more than 7 million new jobs since August 2003 – more than Japan and the European Union combined. The unemployment rate has remained low at 4.5 percent, and the latest figures show that real hourly wages increased 2.3 percent in the last year, meaning an extra $1,350 for this year for the typical family of four with both parents working.
The Tax Relief And Health Care Act Will Continue Economic Progress In Four Key Ways
The Act Will Extend Key Tax Relief Measures That Are Critical To Expanding Opportunity, Continuing Economic Growth, And Revitalizing Our Communities. We are extending the deductibility of tuition and higher education expenses to help more Americans go to college and compete in the global market. We are also extending and modernizing the research and development tax credit to keep our Nation leading the world in technology and innovation. By allowing businesses to deduct part of their R&D investments from their taxes, this Act will encourage American companies to pursue the innovative products, medicines, and technologies of the future.
The Act Will Also Extend Vital Provisions Of The Gulf Opportunity Zone (GO Zone) Act That The President Signed Last Year. It will keep in place key tax credits that we passed to help rebuild Gulf Coast communities devastated by the hurricanes that hit the region in 2005. It will also allow us to maintain our commitment to provide a 50 percent bonus depreciation for GO Zone properties in the hardest hit areas, which will encourage businesses to build new structures and purchase new equipment.
The Act Will Help Expand And Diversify Our Energy Supply. The Act will increase America's energy security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, a key goal of the President's Advanced Energy Initiative. To encourage the development of new sources of energy, it will extend tax credits for investment in renewable electricity resources including wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy. The Act will also encourage the development of clean coal technology and renewable fuels like ethanol, and it will help promote new energy efficient technologies.
The Act Will Allow Access To Key Portions Of America's Outer Continental Shelf So That We Can Reach More Than 1 Billion Additional Barrels Of Oil And Nearly 6 Trillion Cubic Feet Of Natural Gas. By developing these domestic resources in a way that protects the environment, we will help address high energy prices, protect American jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
The Act Will Help Open New Markets For American Goods And Services Around The World. It authorizes Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Vietnam, which will soon join the World Trade Organization. The Act also extends a series of programs with other developing nations to give duty-free status to products they export to the United States. By encouraging a system of free and fair trade, we can create better-paying jobs for American workers and farmers, provide new opportunities for entrepreneurs, and help lift entire nations out of poverty.
The Act Will Help Make Health Care Affordable And Accessible For More Americans. This Act will bring Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) within the reach of more Americans. HSAs allow people to save money for health care tax-free, and to take these accounts with them if they move from job to job. This Act will raise contribution limits and make the accounts more flexible, let people fund their HSAs with one-time transfers from their Individual Retirement Accounts, allow people to contribute up to the annual limit of $2,850 regardless of the deductible for their insurance plan, and give them the option to fully fund their HSAs regardless of what time of year they sign on to a plan.