The $620 billion "Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes" bill takes its title seriously -- so seriously, in fact, that almost every type of American is offered some sort of goodie within its pages.
While millions of Americans will benefit thanks to extensions of popular tax breaks such as the $1,000 child tax credit, there are smaller groups who will also find something to like in the bill. Hard cider producers? Covered. Race horse owners? They're getting a break too.
The bill, called PATH for short, was given final approval on Friday morning, and will now head to President Obama, who has said he plans to approve the bill. One of the important aspects of the tax bill is that it makes many wide-reaching tax breaks permanent, such as the state and local deduction for sales taxes, which previously had been approved on a temporary basis.
That may be a welcome holiday gift from Congress to millions of Americans. And some smaller groups have reason to rejoice, too. Below are five of the quirkiest groups receiving tax breaks thanks to the 233-page bill.
Hard cider producers. The drink beloved by hipsters is getting a tax break. Championed by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York), the tweak redefines hard cider to include an alcohol level of up to 8.5 percent, instead of the current 7 percent, and also increases the amount of carbonation that cider can include.
How does that impact taxes? Prior to the bill, cider with alcohol content of more than 7 percent was taxed at the higher rate levied on wine, and highly carbonated cider could have faced the higher tax applied to sparkling wines. Schumer has predicted the subsequent lower taxes will encourage more apple growers to produce cider. "There is incredible economic potential here that we must tap into," he said at the time.
The cost to the government: $12 million over a decade.
Race-horse owners. The bill extends a tax break for thoroughbred race horse owners, allowing them to classify the animals as "three-year property." The benefit? The owners can depreciate the cost of the horses more quickly.
The estimated cost: about $74 million annually.
The "NASCAR" tax break: The bill also extends a tax break for owners of race tracks, allowing them to write off renovation or construction costs over a seven-year period, instead of the 39-year period used by most owners of nonresidential property.
The estimated cost: About $33 million annually.
Electric motorcycle owners: If you've wanted to buy an electric motorcycle, now may be your chance. The bill includes a 10 percent credit for plug-in electric motorcycles, with a maximum credit of $2,500. There's one small tweak, however: the bill now excludes three-wheeled motorcycles from qualifying.
Estimated cost: about $2 million annually.
Rummy for rum: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands may be feeling spirited with the bill's passage, given that it extends a $13.50 per gallon excise tax on rum produced in or imported to the U.S. That revenue is then split between Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The estimated cost: About $168 million annually.