Washington - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) released the following statement on the key Senate vote on the middle-class tax relief package, scheduled for this afternoon:

"Today's vote is crucial for delivering relief to middle class families and the workers hit hardest by this economy. If we are going to ensure that middle class taxes do not rise on January 1, that laid-off workers can keep their families afloat and that the average New Jersey household will receive $1,400 in payroll tax relief, this is an important moment. The negotiations to get to this point revealed much about the priorities of each party, and the tactics employed by Republicans to support their priorities do not sit well with me and many other Democrats. The bottom line is that most of my colleagues recognize, as I do, that this package will make a real difference in the lives of middle class families, and I believe that it will clear this hurdle today with strong support."


Tax Cuts:
• Middle Class Tax Cuts: Extends tax relief of more than $3,000 for a typical working family, including doubling the value of the child tax credit (from $500 to $1000)
• Payroll Tax Cut: Creates a $120 billion payroll tax cut that is worth $1400 for the average New Jersey household ($71,000 in average income)
• Alternative Minimum Tax relief: Extends 2 years of AMT relief, protecting 1.6 million New Jerseyans from an additional tax bill of up to $5600 (Menendez has been a lead sponsor of AMT relief legislation)
• Tax relief for transit riders: Extends provision which allow commuters to receive up to $230 in transit benefits tax free (Menendez led the fight for inclusion)
• Low-Income Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit: Extends tax credit improvements that will ensure a working family with 3 children would continue to receive a tax cut of more than $2,000
• Higher Education Tax Credit: Extends the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a partially refundable tax credit worth up to $2,500 that helps 8 million students and their families cover the cost of tuition

Job Creation:
• 1603: Extends the 1603 Treasury Grant program, which has been widely credited with maintaining strong growth in the renewable energy sector in 2009 and 2010, despite the severe economic downturn and has saved tens of thousands of jobs in the wind and solar industries (Menendez helped lead the fight for inclusion)
• Unemployment insurance: A 13 month extension of federal support for 99 weeks of unemployment insurance for laid off workers -- a policy that most economists agree is one of the most effective measures to create jobs
• Tax Cuts for Business Investment: Creates the largest temporary investment incentive in American history by allowing businesses to expense all of their qualified investments in 2011. Estimates from the Treasury Department indicate this could generate more than $50 billion in additional investment in the US next year (Menendez has been a co-sponsor of legislation to create this cut)
• R & D Tax Credit: Extends the Research and Development tax credit for 2 years which incentivizes companies to create jobs in America by giving them a tax credit for qualified research spending. The R&D tax credit is truly a jobs credit with 70% or more of the credit attributable to salaries and wages of U.S. workers performing research in the United States (Menendez is a co-sponsor of legislation to make this credit permanent)
• 15 Year Depreciation for Restaurant and Retail Improvements: Extends for 2 years a provision that incentivizes restaurants to upgrade by allowing them to write off the costs faster (15 years as opposed to 39 years) (Menendez is a co-sponsor of legislation to make this credit permanent)