WASHINGTON — The House rushed through a last-minute measure Wednesday to extend more than 50 expired tax breaks for banks, investment firms, commuters and NASCAR track owners.

The bill would enable millions of businesses and individuals to claim the tax breaks on their 2014 returns. It would add nearly $42 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade.

“The IRS has been clear that unless Congress acts quickly, it will be forced to delay the start of the tax filing season,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.

The bill passed 378-46. It now goes to the Senate, where Democratic leaders have been noncommittal about whether they would accept it or try to change it.


Congress routinely extends the package of tax breaks every year or two. But they were allowed to expire in January.

Technically, the bill is a one-year, retroactive extension of the tax breaks, even though it only lasts through the end of the month.

Lawmakers from both political parties said the short-term measure is the product of a divided Congress that has trouble passing routine legislation.

“This on-again, off-again style of legislating on a temporary basis is a terrible way to make tax policy,” Camp said.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats were negotiating to make some of the tax breaks permanent. But talks faltered last week after the White House threatened to veto an emerging package, saying it too heavily favored big corporations over families.

Some Democrats said they opposed the package because it would have added more than $400 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade, yet still would have allowed several tax breaks that benefit low-income families to expire in a few years.


Some Republicans in Congress argue it is OK to add to the budget deficit when all you are doing is extending tax breaks that taxpayers currently enjoy. They note that many Democrats have supported the practice in the past.

The White House has signaled that Obama is open to supporting a shorter-term plan.

Among the biggest breaks for businesses are a tax credit for research and development, an exemption that allows financial companies such as banks and investment firms to shield foreign profits from being taxed by the U.S., and several provisions that allow businesses to write off capital investments more quickly.

There is also a generous tax credit for using wind farms and other renewable energy sources to produce electricity.

The biggest tax break for individuals allows people who live in states without an income tax to deduct state and local sales taxes on their federal returns. Other provisions benefit commuters who use public transportation and teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies.