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Is There a Citigroup Tax Credit Hidden in the Stimulus Plan?

Over at Beat the Press, economist Dean Baker raises an interesting question that deserves follow-up: Is there a hidden tax credit for Citigroup in the upcoming Obama administration’s proposed stimulus plan?

From Baker:

The media seem to have largely overlooked the Citigroup tax credit in their discussion of the latest items in President [-elect Barack] Obama’s stimulus proposal. According to the Washington Post, the proposal will allow companies to write off current losses against taxes paid over the last 4-5 years, not just 2 years, as in current law.

There are relatively few companies that could benefit from this tax break since most companies will not have losses so large that they would need more than two years of tax payments to balance them against. But, really big losers, like Robert Rubin’s Citigroup, and other badly failing financial institutions, are losing much more money in 2008 and 2009 than they earned in 2006 and 2007.

And why would such a tax break be part of the stimulus plan? Note that earlier mention of Rubin, Baker says:

Did the political connections of Robert Rubin and others in the financial industry have anything to do with the decision of Obama’s economic team to be so generous to them? I don’t have an answer to that question, but the media should be asking it.

Consider it asked.

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