Welcome to 2011: New Deals, New Faces

Originally published: 01.01.11 by Terry Tanker

Isn’t it funny how much things can change in three or four months?

Back in September, I wrote a column about planning for pending tax-code changes. Now, after mid-term elections and a change of power in Congress, President Obama and Congress have pushed through a new tax deal that keeps the current tax structure in place and is about 180 degrees away from what was proposed back then.

The new plan gives temporary relief in many areas I discussed in September, specifically: the Alternative Minimum Tax; the death tax — or as some of you corrected me — the Estate Tax; investment incentives; unemployment incentive; unemployment insurance and benefits; payroll tax reduction (for employees); and the most important for our industry — the energy tax incentives for energy efficiency (although, these have been reduced greatly).

Predictably, Republicans argued the deal did not go far enough, and Democrats continue to be incensed. One thing is certain — it’s virtually impossible to change people’s minds on the political front, especially with regard to how individuals and businesses should or should not be taxed. Seriously, have you ever won this discussion at a party or with a friend who had a totally different position than you? If so, count yourself lucky — as in “lottery lucky.” Individuals hold on tightly to their beliefs in this area.

Treasury Printing Error Costs $120 Million

My follow-up column in October centered on wasteful government spending — (and thanks to all of you who wrote in with examples you found in local, state, and federal budgets). One of the most recent examples just occurred at the Treasury Dept. And, since we know a thing or two about printing, we had to laugh and cry about the debacle over printing the new Benjamin Franklin $100 bills.

More than 1.1 billion $100 bills are being stored in two highly fortified government warehouses after printing problems left them unusable. Officials say a production error has left as many as 30% of the notes with a blank strip on their face, which only appears after they are pulled flat. The cost to print the notes was roughly $120 million, and the Treasury Dept. is now trying to design and build a machine that can identify the faulty $100 bills and separate them from the correctly printed ones.

Sorting them by hand would take workers between 20 and 30 years, they estimate, whereas a mechanical system would complete the task by 2012.

Odds and Ends

We have a new columnist joining us, Charles McCrudden, vice president of government relations at the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. He contributes the first of four columns this month. Charlie will be updating readers on legislative and regulatory happenings in Washington, D.C., that will have an impact on the hvacr industry, and more specifically on hvacr contractors. We hope you enjoyed the Best of 20 Questions on Leadership in December. Based on your input, we may make it a regular edition to our December line up. So, please give us your thoughts and respond to me directly at ttanker@hvacrbusiness.com.

As you are wrapping up loose ends from 2010, please take three minutes to renew your subscription at www.hvacrbusiness. com. Go to our subscription center button on the left side of our home page. It will help if you have your printed copy with you. You’ll need your HVA number. (see label) And don’t forget: We publish a digital edition for those of you who want our issue via computer or mobile device.

Although full access to our digital edition has been open to anyone thus far, starting this month, only subscribers to the digital edition will have full access. You can become a digital subscriber when you renew your subscription by simply checking the digital subscription button instead of the print subscription button. (It’s the second question we ask!)

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