Monday, March 23, 2009

AIG Bonus Tax Bill May Be Delayed in U.S. Senate


The U.S. Senate may wait until next month to vote on a proposed steep tax increase on employee bonuses at American International Group Inc. and other companies that got taxpayer bailouts.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said today that Republicans had asked for time to study a proposal to impose a 70 percent tax on bonuses like the $165 million paid out by AIG. The insurer received $182.5 billion in U.S. bailout funds, according to the Government Accountability Office.

“We will continue to work to right this egregious misuse of taxpayer dollars,” Reid, of Nevada, said on the Senate floor. “With Republican cooperation we can quickly and responsibly return these funds to the American people.”

This week and next week, Reid said, the Senate will work on a national-service bill and President Barack Obama’s budget proposal. Congress begins a two-week recess on April 6. Reid spokesman Jim Manley said the Senate would have to have unanimous agreement to proceed with the bonus tax legislation before the recess.

On March 19, the House voted overwhelmingly for a 90 percent tax on some bonuses paid by AIG and other companies that got bailouts. Later that day, four senators introduced a measure to impose a 70 percent tax on bonuses, split between the employee and company, in addition to existing income taxes. Reid sought immediate Senate passage, though Republicans objected.

‘Make Mistakes’

Arizona Republican Jon Kyl said today that lawmakers should hold hearings to consider options. “We can make mistakes” when lawmakers act too quickly, he said.

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