Obama’s Tax Cut Legislation Helps NASCAR


(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

A host of industries, from Caribbean distilleries to Hollywood producers, would gain billions in tax breaks and other subsidies under compromise tax-cut legislation now moving its way through Congress.

The $858 billion package approved by the Senate today is focused primarily on continuing the Bush administration tax cuts for two years, extending unemployment benefits and other large-scale expenditures. But buried inside the legislation are more than $55 billion in other giveaways and tax reductions for some of Washington’s most influential industry groups.

Owners of NASCAR tracks and other motor-sports facilities would benefit from two more years of a tax policy making it cheaper for them to fund capital projects. Estimated cost to taxpayers: $40 million.

Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group, said many of the breaks had stalled under House rules aimed at ensuring that new spending is paid for with cuts or revenues. But the push for tax-cut legislation, he said, has “opened up the floodgates.”

“Most of these are sweeteners that don’t get vetted or reevaluated,” Ellis said. “They’re just sort of on autopilot.”

The motor-sports provision stems from an ongoing dispute between racetrack owners and the Internal Revenue Service, which concluded that racing facilities should be subject to longer depreciation schedules – thus decreasing tax benefits for owners.

The motor-sports industry, including the popular NASCAR series, argues that a shorter, seven-year depreciation schedule used by amusement parks and similar facilities should apply instead. Congress has periodically approved the accelerated depreciation schedule since 2004; the tax-cuts bill would extend the provision again through 2011.

The main beneficiaries of the provision would be large track owners such as International Speedway Corp. (France family owned) and Speedway Motorsports (owned by Bruton Smith). But other racing organizations also support the change.

“For us to be able to run our events at the track, you have to have quality facilities,” said Ramsey Poston, managing director of corporate communications at NASCAR. “Being able to provide the track owners the opportunity to invest more in their tracks and make them better and safer is important for us and our fans.” (Washington Post)

I looked it up so that you wouldn’t have to!


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