US business group seeks broad tax relief


WASHINGTON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - An influential U.S. business group urged lawmakers on Wednesday to speed up scheduled tax cuts for individuals and reduce corporate income taxes as part of a plan to help the economy recover from the attacks on New York and Washington.

National Association of Manufacturers President Jerry Jasinowski said in a statement the economy was on the brink of recession before hijackers slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11. Those attacks, which left nearly 7,000 missing or dead, likely pushed the economy into recession.

"Now millions of American businesses find themselves struggling to keep their doors open and their workers employed," he said. "We urge the Bush administration and the Congress to act quickly on tax measures that will raise business and consumer income with modest impact on the overall federal budget."

The group urged lawmakers to accelerate individual tax cuts that were part of the $1.3 trillion tax cut package signed by President George W. Bush earlier this year. Some cuts have taken effect, but the next round of across-the-board rate cuts does not go into effect until 2004.

The group also urged lowering corporate income tax rates by five percentage points, saying that would help companies reduce debt or boost investments.

It also called for repealing the alternative minimum tax (AMT) for corporations, arguing it was a counter-cyclical tax that required companies to pay higher AMT taxes when their profits were down.

Congressional leaders and the White House are considering a package of tax cuts and spending increases that would help jump-start the economy. Tax writers in the Senate and House of Representatives have said nothing has been taken off the table.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and the top Republican on the committee, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, have said they are looking at short-term items for companies and consumers.

19:46 09-26-01

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