Washington - Today, President Obama signed into law the middle class tax relief package, which includes income tax relief for middle class families, the protection of 1.6 million New Jerseyans from a surprise Alternative Minimum Tax hike, and critical assistance for laid off workers, among other important relief provisions.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) supported the package. In addition to being a long-time leader on preventing Alternative Minimum Tax hikes, he led the fight to ensure the package included tax benefits for rail and bus transit commuters. He also helped to champion tax relief to spur the use of solar energy.

Menendez released the following statement:

"These are tough times for many, and it is my priority to help make a real difference in the lives of middle class families and the hardest-hit workers. The tax relief package signed into law today will do just that.

"As a result of this action, taxes will actually decrease for middle class families starting on January 1, including an average payroll tax cut of $1,400 per household. Laid-off workers will be able to take care of their families. 1.6 million New Jerseyans will avoid a surprise Alternative Minimum Tax hike, which I have long championed. And I was proud to lead the effort that guarantees tax relief for rail and bus commuters, as well as tax relief that will help create jobs through solar energy.

"The decision of Republicans to prioritize millionaires and undertake shameful tactics in the process of getting to the compromise package stands in stark contrast to the Democrats prioritizing middle class families. In the end, enacting this package was not about tax breaks for millionaires, it was about guaranteeing tax relief for the middle class on January 1 and ensuring that laid off workers can keep food on the table. Debate about the future of our tax code will continue, and Democrats will continue to stand on the side of middle class families."


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)
• No Capital Gains Taxes for Certain Small Business Investment: Extends provision to encourage people to invest in start-up small businesses by completely exempting these investments from capital gains taxes (Menendez was Cosponsor of original legislative proposal)
• 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)