WASHINGTON DC (March 19, 2020) — Prepared floor remarks by Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley, Chairman, Senate Finance Committee:
As Americans continue to do their part to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, we are doing our part to support them, their families, and their businesses.
Congress passed two bills quickly to step up the government’s ability to combat the virus and to provide greater security for families whose incomes have been disrupted by containment efforts.
We are now working on a bold and comprehensive effort to provide additional relief to Americans and our economy in this challenging time.
As chairman of the Finance Committee, I’ve been working with my colleagues around the clock to find opportunities in the tax code to reduce stress on American tax-payers and businesses.
We’ve adopted a “do no harm” approach. We want to ensure that routine government processes don’t add to the strain.
We do this by issuing recovery assistance to American families in the form of checks that can go out the door in short order. These direct payments could be as much as $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for couples, with additional assistance for families. This will provide immediate relief to folks who are facing cash flow problems as they stay home to stop the spread.
To avoid in-person meetings with tax-preparers in the midst of the pandemic, we are extending the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15. The Administration has already deferred collection of taxes. This will help families defer filing costs and avoid meetings that could put folks at risk.
The deadline for quarterly estimated tax payments will also be postponed for 180 days.
We encourage those able to lend a financial hand by providing additional deductions for charitable giving. This includes suspending the deduction limitation for cash donations by individuals and easing the limitation on donations of cash and food inventory by businesses. Additionally, for those who do not itemize, a new deduction will be available to everyone who gives, regardless of how you file your taxes.
American businesses are the engine of our economy, and we stand ready to assist them as well. They are our job providers, and we need to make sure they can keep the doors open and payrolls going out to individuals and families across the nation.
Our proposal includes items to improve cash flow and liquidity for businesses of all sizes.
Businesses, including the self-employed, will be able to defer their quarterly tax-estimates 180 days and their employer Social Security tax-payments through 2020.
We are going to increase the limit on interest deductibility. We’ll speed up the recovery of Alternative Minimum Tax credits. And we’ll relax limitations on how companies use losses from previous years to reduce their tax burdens.
These are just some of the many provisions in our proposal to unburden businesses so they can keep employing those who are home caring for their families and helping to prevent the spread of the virus.
I’ve also joined Senator [Lamar] Alexander and others to assist health-care workers and patients. This portion of the package includes several Finance Committee provisions to help everyone fight the pandemic.
For example, we are adding additional flexibility to Health Savings Accounts, bolstering telehealth services, and boosting Medicare payments to health-care providers.
We can contain this deadly virus without destroying livelihoods or the nation’s economy. These recommendations take bold steps to curb the economic fallout as we work as a country to contain this pandemic.
These proposals won’t be the end of the congressional response to the coronavirus. I stand ready to continue identifying targeted relief as necessary to help bridge the gap.
But we need to take this next step and we need to do it as quickly as possible.
I want to thank Leader McConnell for convening our task forces to quickly provide meaningful relief to individuals, families and all sectors of our economy. I also want to thank Sens John Thune, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, Tim Scott, Tom Cotton, and Mitt Romney for working with me on this package. I know our staffs worked literally around the clock, so I want to recognize their efforts as well.
So many Americans are working day and night to provide essential services and combat this outbreak. We in Congress must be prepared to do the same. I applaud Leader [Mitch] McConnell’s commitment to keeping the Senate open until we’ve done our part, and I look forward to working with the Democrats and the administration to get this done without delay. Nobody should be going home until we’ve delivered this needed relief.