By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 – With an eye on farmers and ranchers along with millions of other small businesses, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., hope to repeal the new healthcare law requirement that any business must file an IRS 1099 form for anyone they pay $600 or more a year. Even President Obama has called for repealing this “paperwork burden” – even though it would bring in billions in payments from tax cheats not reporting all their income and even though this revenue would help offset healthcare reform costs.

Hoping the full Senate will repeal the 1099 provision in a vote expected today, Stabenow explained that “If left unchecked, this 1099 provision would tie up 40 million small businesses in red tape and burdensome IRS reporting requirements, so we need to fix it now.” Both her amendment, supported by Johanns, and Johanns' own alternative, call for the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to offset the repeal's cost by cutting $39 billion in spending without touching Defense, Veterans' Affairs, or Social Security.

With 61 senators including Stabenow and 15 other Democrats signed up as co-sponsors of his 1099 amendment, Johanns said that “I have made repealing this mandate a priority for nearly a year. I am extremely pleased that so many of my Senate colleagues have joined me in this effort. I am confident we have the support to pass it and eliminate this problem once and for all. President Obama called for it. Job creators are pleading for it. Now it’s time for Congress to act on it.”

Despite the strong bipartisan support for repealing the 1099 tax reporting provision, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says he's frustrated by attention being diverted from the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. The FAA bill is on the Senate floor now. But the Johanns and Stabenow amendments, along with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell's amendment to repeal the entire healthcare law, have turned the FAA debate into a battle over healthcare reform.

Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., introduced their own measure to repeal the 1099 provision last month. But Reid insists that the focus now should be on passing the FAA bill as quickly as possible in order to create more jobs, put more Americans back to work, and add more momentum to the economic recovery.

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