Motorsports Racetrack Property Aid? Puerto Rico Rum Taxes? In the Economic Rescue Bill?

By Julia Hoppock

Oct 2, 2008 12:22pm

The Senate Finance Committee has published a summary of some of the additions to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.

There are many provisions in the bill that will directly benefit millions of Americans — what’s called the "AMT patch," for instance, which will protect 20 million middle class Americans from seeing a tax increase in 2009.

Or tax deductions for tuition, and for teacher expenses.

Corporations will see extensions of popular tax cuts — for research and development, or renewable energies.

But there’s also some other stuff.

My colleague Z. Bryon Wolf points out that it bears mentioning that all of the following provisions were in the "tax extender" package the Senate (and the House) had already voted on, but were arguing over whether or not to "pay for."

But what’s in here also bears mentioning:

* Rum Excise Taxes to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands — Cost: $192 million over 10 years

Current law imposes a $13.50 per proof gallon excise tax on distilled spirits produced in or imported into the United States — of which $13.25 per proof gallon was made as a payment to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands until the end of 2007, after which it was lowered to $10.50 per proof gallon. This retroactively extends that provision from Dec. 31, 2007, through the end of 2009.

* American Samoa Economic Development Credit — Cost: $33 million over 10 years

Certain domestic corporations operating in American Samoa were eligible for a possessions tax credit, which offsets their U.S. tax liability on income earned in American Samoa from active business operations, sales of assets used in a business, or certain investments in American Samoa. The tax credit expired on Dec. 31, 2007. This retroactively restores it and extends it until the end of 2009.

* Extend and Expand 50% Tax Credit for Certain Expenditures for Maintaining Railroad Tracks — Cost: $331 million over ten years

Restores to certain railroads a tax credit equal to 50% of gross expenditures for maintaining railroad tracks that they own or lease.

* 7-Year Recovery Period for Certain Motorsports Racetrack Property — Cost: $100 million over 10 years

Extends a special 7-year cost recovery period or property used for land improvement and support facilities at motorsports entertainment complexes.

* The Wool Trust Fund — Cost: $148 million over ten years

Extends a provision that reduces import duties on a limited quantity of imported wool fabrics and places duties otherwise collected on the import of certain wool products into the Wool Trust Fund, which promotes the competitiveness of American wool.

* Special Expensing Rules for Certain Film and Television Productions — Cost: $81 million over 10 years

Under current law, a producer can elect to take a single-year deduction of up to $15 million in production costs incurred in the U.S. If the production costs are over $15 million, this deduction does not apply. The maximum deduction is increased to $20 million if the costs are significantly incurred in economically depressed areas. No other depreciation or amortization is allowed for a production for which this deduction is taken. The provision expires Dec. 31, 2008. The proposal would extend the provision to the end of 2009.

* Provisions Related to Film and Television Productions — Cost: $397 million over ten years

Under current law, many film and television show production companies are unable to take advantage of the domestic production deduction. The proposal allows more film and television show production companies to use the domestic production deduction, which will encourage more production of films and television productions.

* Excise Tax Exemption for Wooden Practice Arrows Used by Children — Cost: $2 million over 10 years

Current law imposes an excise tax of 39 cents, adjusted for inflation, on the first sale by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of any shaft of a type used to produce certain types of arrows. This proposal would exempt from the excise tax any shaft consisting of all natural wood with no laminations or artificial means to enhance the spine of the shaft used in the manufacture of an arrow that measures 5/16 of an inch or less and is unsuited for use with a bow with a peak draw weight of 30 pounds or more.

* Income Averaging for Exxon Valdez Litigation Amounts — Cost: $49 million over 10 years

Allowing commercial fishermen and other individuals whose livelihoods were negatively impacted by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill to average any settlement or judgment-related income that they receive in connection with pending litigation in the federal courts over three years for federal tax purposes. The bill would also allow these individuals to use these funds to make contributions to retirement accounts.

The Senate Finance Committee issued a statement saying that these are not "’earmarks.’ According to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, a tax earmark or limited tax benefit means any revenue provision that (A) provides a Federal tax deduction, credit, exclusion, or preference to a particular beneficiary or limited group of beneficiaries under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; and (B) contains eligibility criteria that are not uniform in application with respect to potential beneficiaries of such provision."

- jpt

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