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Tax bill would extend employer-provided benefits


WASHINGTON—The tax-favored status of several employer-provided benefits, including educational assistance and child care facilities, would be extended under a controversial tax bill that the U.S. Senate is expected to consider Monday.

Under the bill, unveiled Friday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Section 127 of the Tax Code, which allows employers to reimburse employees for up to $5,250 in annual undergraduate and graduate educational costs without the reimbursement being included in employees’ taxable income, would be extended though Dec. 31, 2012. The tax break is set to expire on Dec. 31.

The measure also would continue through the end of 2012 a section of a 2001 law—also set to expire on Dec. 31—in which employers are eligible to receive a tax credit equal to 25% of expenses for developing and operating child care centers as well as a tax credit of 10% of expenses for child care and referral services.

In addition, the Tax Hike Prevention Act of 2010 would extend through Dec. 31, 2011, a provision in a 2009 economic stimulus law that allows employees to reduce their salaries by up to $230 a month to pay for mass transit expenses. Without an extension, the monthly maximum would be reduced to the prior limit of $120.

While Senate passage is considered likely, House Democrats, who are upset about provisions that would continue tax breaks for upper-income individuals, have threatened to block House consideration of the measure.