Although it hasn’t made it to the President’s desk just yet, an important tax relief & spending authorization deal appears to have been reached in Congress this week and seemingly contains a few small but important Christmas gifts for small business if the deal holds and the bills signed into law by the President.  Three key provisions that have been incorporated into the tax-relief component were top priorities for the Coalition of Franchisee Associations and other business interest groups over the past few years.  As currently drafted, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH) includes Section 179 expensing, Bonus depreciation and Leasehold Improvement accelerated depreciation and extends each.  Specifically, Section 179 expensing will be permanently extended and expanded, allowing businesses to deduct $500,000 on $2,000,000 in purchases, up from the current $25,000 on $200,000 in purchases.  Similarly, the 15-year depreciation schedule for restaurant and qualified leasehold improvements is made permanent by the legislation, while the rule allowing businesses to take a 50 percent bonus depreciation on qualified property is extended and phased down over a five-year period.  In addition, the bill makes permanent the enhanced charitable deduction for food donation, providing enhanced tax deductions to restaurants that donate food to charity and finally, PATH reauthorizes the Work Opportunity Tax Credit retroactively effective to January 1st of 2015 and then extends that credit for a five year period through December 31, 2019.  Lastly, PATH also permanently extends the Earned Income Tax Credit.