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The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997: An Overview

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Publication Date: October 1997

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: 97-854

Topic: Banking and finance (Taxation and tax policy)


On July 31, the House and Senate both passed the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (H.R. 2014). The President signed the measure on August 5; it became P.L. 105-34. The bill provides a tax cut of modest size in the aggregate that consists of a variety of measures applying to particular types of taxpayers, income, and activities. Its most prominent features are a $500 per-child tax credit ($400 for 1998), a cut for capital gains, several tax benefits for education, reduction of estate taxes, and expansion of Individual Retirement Accounts. Along with these tax reductions, the bill contains a number of revenue raising provisions that offset part (but substantially less than all) of the revenue loss from the bill’s tax cuts. The largest revenue raiser is modification and extension of a set of aviation-related excise taxes that were scheduled to expire. An associated budget reconciliation Act (the Balanced Budget Act of 1997; P.L. 105-33) that focuses on spending rather than outlays contains an increase in excise taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products.