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Senate passes GO Zone amendments

MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST — The U.S. Senate has approved two amendments to expand and extend Gulf Opportunity Zone (GO Zone) tax benefits that are important to Gulf Coast recovery, according to U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran.

The Senate accepted the two amendments by unanimous consent as part of the Tax Extenders Act (H.R. 4213), a broader measure to extend numerous tax provisions that would otherwise expire.

The first amendment, authored by Wicker and co-sponsored by Cochran, would give Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama until Jan. 1, 2012, to allocate tax-exempt GO Zone bonds previously issued by Congress following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The GO Zone bonds have been an important tool in economic development efforts across Mississippi to finance the acquisition, construction, and renovation of commercial real property in Mississippi.

While traditional tax-exempt bonds can only be issued by the government and non-profit corporations, the GO Zone bond program, administered by the Mississippi Development Authority, allows this preferential financing to be extended to businesses. Under current law, the authority to issue these bonds expires Jan. 1, 2011. The amendment extends the window to issue these allocated bonds by one year.

The second amendment, co-sponsored by the two Mississippi senators, would extend the placed-in-service date by two years for the GO Zone low-income housing tax credits.

In addition to the two amendments, H.R. 4213 includes a provision that extends the GO Zone bonus depreciation tax incentive through Dec. 31, 2010. Under current law, this provision expired Dec. 31, 2009. This provision is similar to stand-alone legislation introduced by Wicker and Cochran last year.

The Senate is expected to continue debate on H.R. 4213 this week.

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