The Senate has approved a package of provisions aimed at helping small businesses, including $12 billion in tax breaks and a $30-billion federal fund to stimulate banks to provide more loans to small firms.
The measure next goes to the House, which is expected to approve it. The bill also has the support of President Obama.
The measure was approved Sept. 16 on a 61-38 vote, as Republicans George LeMieux (Fla.) and George Voinovich (Ohio) joined Democrats in voting for the bill.
Key provisions in the bill include a $30-billion Small Business Lending Fund, through which the Treasury will buy preferred stock from banks with assets of up to $10 billion. The measure's supporters say those banks can use the additional capital to issue more loans to small firms.
The Independent Community Bankers of America, which represents small banks, estimates that the $30 billion federal infusion could produce up to $300 billion in new, small-business loans.
Banks with assets totaling $1 billion to $10 billion could apply to the Treasury for amounts up to 3% of those assets. Banks whose assets are less than $1 billion could apply for sums equaling up to 5% of assets.
Among the package's $12 billion in tax incentives is a provision that would permit small companies to write off in 2010 and 2011 up to $500,000 in capital goods in the year they are purchased. The current "expensing" limit is $250,000.
The measure's $500,000 per-company annual cap could include up to $250,000 for improvements to leaseholds, restaurants and retail buildings.
The legislation would increase the limits on various types of Small Business Administration loans. For example, the maximum SBA 7(a) loan would rise to $5.5 million, from $1.5 million now.