TCS Statement on the Jobs Act

TCS Statement on the Jobs Act

Budget & Tax
May 12, 2004  | 19 min read

Washington, D.C. – The following is a written statement by Keith Ashdown, Vice President of Taxpayers for Common Sense on final passage of S. 1637 – the Corporate Tax Bill:

The Senate today passed what initially was a legislative replacement for $50 billion in illegal export tax breaks, but has become a $170 billion corporate cash cow stuffed to the brim with more than 150 unrelated giveaways and payoffs to almost every special interest with Gucci clad hired guns. The complicated strategy to grease the legislation through to final passage amounted to a high stakes, vote-buying scheme that required the fix to be in from the start. There was really never any way to derail this runaway legislative train.

This was one of the only must-pass pieces of legislation this session, but it has become the most prolific pot of honey, and attracted a lot of election year flies. A who’s who of Corporate America will benefit from the legislation. Boeing, Caterpillar, Lear Jet, Pfizer, Exxon, BP, Google and Eli Lilly are just a few of the biggest winners. K street lobbyists basically just stuck their wish lists on to this bill and the tragedy is that most Senators haven’t even blinked an eye. Nearly everyone is ignoring fiscal responsibility to bring election year pork home to their favorite special interest.

The strategy of the tax bill proponents was to add everything but the kitchen sink to guarantee the votes for final passage in what amounts to a new, very fiscally irresponsible way to legislate.

Here are 21 of the most wasteful provisions in the legislation:

1. Cruise Ship Industry
Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Senator Bob Graham added a provision that would provide the cruise industry a one-year delay in paying taxes on the airplane tickets, hotels, and other excursions it sells in the
United States . The tax delay would save Carnival Corp $15 million and Royal Caribbean would save $8 million to $10 million, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

2. Tax Credit for Natural Gas Production in Alaska
Depending on the price of natural gas a decade from now, the proposed tax credit/price floor could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to the federal treasury. Conoco Philips is the big supporter of this provision and Senator Lisa Murkowski is their champion.

3. Tax break on Archery products – $8 million
U.S. arrow makers now pay a 12.4 percent tax on arrow components manufactured in the United States . But arrow parts imported from overseas are not taxed. The measure would also eliminate the current 11 percent tax on so-called youth bows that are not powerful enough to be used in hunting. The current excise tax on broadheads, razor-sharp devices that can be attached to the tips of arrows, would be reduced from 12.4 percent to 11 percent. Senate sponsors of similar legislation include Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah.

4. Dog and Horse Race Provision – $25 million
This tax break was included to lure more foreigners to gamble at U.S. horse and dog racing establishments. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has advocated that the
United States should eliminate a 30 percent tax for foreigners who bet on American horse races.

5. Conservation/Forestry bonds – $252 million
Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) asked for the Forestry Bond provisions in this bill. That proposal allows nonprofits to use tax-exempt bond financing to acquire forestland to achieve better balance between the goals of conservationists and the timber industry. Up to $1.5 billion in bonds may be issued under this program.

6. Small Aircraft tax break – $519 million
Sens. Brownback and Roberts inserted enhanced depreciation provisions to help producers of small jets and planes, 60% of which are built in
Kansas . Some of the companies that benefit include Lear Jet and Cessna. The provision modifies the definition of qualified property. The new definition requires that the aircraft’s total cost exceed $200,000 and its development time exceed 4 months. The Internal Revenue Code provides that aircraft owners depreciate aircraft over a five-year life, while commercial operators must use a seven-year life. In the year of acquisition, an aircraft owner is normally entitled to depreciate the aircraft as though he or she acquired it in the middle of the year.

7. Oldsmobile Dealers
This tax break is for automobile dealers who sold Oldsmobiles, a brand General Motors has stopped making. It assumes significant transition assistance/tax treatment for over the next two years. The bill reads that this provision applies to “a motor vehicle manufacturer who announced in December 2000 that it would phase-out the motor vehicle brand.” The tax breaks are received off the monies that the dealership reinvests in his/her dealership.

8. Ranchers tax break
At the request of Senator Boxer (D-CA), this provision would allow farmers and ranchers a 30% tax credit on the purchase and installation of irrigation equipment. The credit would be targeted to areas that have received drought assistance over the last three years.

9. Credit for the maintenance of railway tracks – $492 million
This tax credit for railroad maintenance is not to exceed $3,500 a year and applies to class II and class III railroads, which are railroads with total revenues under $256.4 million. It was heavily lobbied for by the American Short Line and Railroad Association and other railroad industry lobbyists.

10. Taxbreaks for Railroads – $492 Million
Tax credits for passenger rail capital projects as requested by Senator Carper (D-DE)

11. Brownfield tax break – $191 Million
This helps investors that invest in cleaning up Brownfield sites. The provision makes gains and losses on the sale or exchange of Brownfield properties (potentially environmentally contaminated properties) exempt from taxes on that sale. The property must first be certified by an appropriate state agency.

12. Tax Break for trial lawyers – $282 Million
This break establishes costs incurred as a result of attorney and court costs paid to prosecute a claim of unlawful discrimination as a tax deduction.

13. Tax Break for Shipbuilders – $310 Million
Sens. John Breaux (D-LA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) requested this provision that allows shipbuilders such as Northrop Grumman to use a different accounting technique, which allows for enhanced tax treatment.

14. Special rules for livestock sold on account of weather-related conditions – $25 million
At the request of Sens Daschle (D-MA) and Thomas (R-WY), this provision provides tax-free treatment if farmers replace livestock because of drought, flood and other weather related conditions.

15. Tax breaks on Horse sales – $64 million
Shortens the time by 12 months before horse owners can get a tax break from at he gain or loss resulting from the sale of their horses.

16. Tax Breaks for Big Energy – $14 billion
Added to the bill at the last minute, the Jobs Act would add $14 billion of energy tax breaks to the bill. These includes tax breaks for every special energy interest in the country including oil, gas, nuclear and utilities. It also continues tax breaks for energy derived from chicken poop and synfuels.

17. Extension and modification of research credit – $9.8 billion
The $9.8 billion tax break for research expenses would give an 18-month extension to a research and development tax credit, originally established in 1981 that is scheduled to expire June 30. The effort to try to get this in the bill was led by R & D Credit Coalition, which includes Microsoft, Pfizer, AT&T, Dupont and E-Bay.

Recess Is Delayed

18. Tax breaks for Hollywood – $1.2 billion
Hollywood would receive $1.2 billion in tax breaks from several provisions. One of them allows studios to expense up to $15 million in the first year of production of small and independent films in the United States . Studios could expense an additional $5 million if a significant amount of production expenditures are incurred in low-income communities or in the Delta Regional Authority. The Delta Regional Authority includes counties in Alabama , Arkansas , Illinois , Kentucky , Louisiana , Mississippi , Missouri and Tennessee . The $15 million to $20 million will help keep television production and small films in the United States , according to advocates.

19. Tax Break for Sioux City , IA Hotel – $94 million
This provision would help developers who hope to convert the historic Warrior Hotel in downtown
Sioux City , IA into low-income housing for the elderly. As more developers take advantage of this provision, the Joint Tax Committee estimates the provision could cost $ 94 million over 10 years.

20. NASCAR tax break – $92 million
Track owners have been battling the IRS over the tax treatment of their facilities, which defines how quickly they can write off grandstand facilities. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is the champion of this provision.

21. Green Bonds
An amendment was passed on the Senate floor 76-23 that would allocate $232 million in taxpayer funds to finance $2 billion in bonds for four for four “Green Bond” mall developments. The following are the four

Destiny USA Syracuse NY – The $2.2 billion entertainment and retail development is touted as an economic stimulus for upstate New York . Supporters of the proposal include Gov. George Pataki and other NY legislative leaders. Pyramid Co – the developer would commit to 3.2 million square feet, which would translate to a price of close to $700 per square foot. Pyramid officials last year estimated that green bonds could save them at least $100 million.

The Mall of America – the biggest shopping emporium in the United States is now valued at $700 million or about $170 per square foot. As a side note, Pyramid Co. has a checkered past, recently it was charged for using a phony city tax bill to overcharge tenants by $800,000 at other shopping facilities.

Governor Pataki has said that Destiny USA would make Syracuse a leader in developing indoor environmental technologies and cited Destiny USA to build using “gre.png” environmental standards. Rep. James Walsh, R-Onondaga, has been the champion for this project in the House. Rep. Walsh went to bat for Destiny in a meeting early this ealier with Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas.

Earlier this year, Destiny execs Matt. Chadderdon and Rich Piertrafesa said they’ve been told the legislation could be attached to any number of other tax “vehicles” heading through Congress this year. As part of their lobbying effort, Destiny developer Robert Congel last year launched a political action committee to support influential members of Congress. The only contributions to the Green Worlds Coalition Fund to date have been $5000 each from Congel, his wife, Suzanne, and Destiny executive Rich Pietrafesa. The PAC also spent $1000 to rent a mid-Lakes Navigation boat that Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY used last August for a local fund-raiser on Onondaga Lake .

Destiny USA intends to build a refinery near the lakeside area once known as Oil City , but this new facility would be free of petroleum-based products. The refinery would transform crude soybean oil into biodiesel fuel, a clear-burning, 100 percent renewable source of energy.

The soybean-based fuel would operate four diesel engines, which in turn would run a generator producing electricity for the $2.2 billion entertainment and retail complex.

Riverwalk Development – Shreveport, LA
The $150 million Riverwalk will feature about 50 stores, restaurants and clubs on the Bossier City riverfront, as well as a 14-Screen Regal Cinemas, a bowling alley, recording studio, a 1912 trolley and more. Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World stands as the anchor tenant on the north side of the project. The 106,000 square foot store features fishing, hunting, camping, boating, and other outdoors clothing, anchored by a 13,000 gallon aquarium. It will also offer live performance theaters, theme restaurants, hotels and other recreational passive types of outdoor entertainment.

The outdoor seating at Riverwalk will capitalize on the riverfront location, allowing visitors to play or picnic on the grass by the river. Live oaks, Bradford pears, Buford holly, crape myrtles, boxwoods, annuals and many other trees and plants will stand along the riverfront walkway and throughout the center. There will be fans throughout the center, awnings and the shad trees will help keep visitors cool as they walk from place to place. Outdoor fireplaces will help them stay warm in the winter. Maybe because the are creating shade is why they are getting the tax break.

Bass Pro Shops is anchor tenant in the $150 million Louisiana Riverwalk, which aims to open about 50 shops, restaurants and clubs by late 2004, including a Hooters restaurant and Chico ‘s clothing. Other firm commitments to the development include a comedy club, daiquiri bar, three clothing stores and a dance club, according to John Good Jr, a local developer involved in the project. O&S Holdings, a Los Angeles Firm is partnering with Mr. Good on this project

Belmar – Lakewood, CO
Green bonds are also proposed for Belmar, the $500 million redevelopment of Lakewood’s former Villa Italia mall, which will include forty-four restaurants, clothing stores, specialty shops and offices.

Among the retailers that have signed on to occupy the first 650,000 square feet of retail space are Coldwater Creek, DSW Show Warehouse, Galyan’s, Pier 1 Imports, Yankee Candle Co. and White House/Black Market. Restaurants will include Baja Fresh, Ben&Jerry’s, Johnny Rockets, Home Restaurant, and a coffee shop called Liquid.

To that end, Belmar will include a mix of shops, offices, restaurants and homes including 180,000 sq. feet of offices, 130 housing units and 2 parking garages. The project will eventually include 1.2 million squarefeet of retail space, 800,000 square feet of offices, a hotel, about 1300 townhomes, condos and apartments, and 9000 parking spaces.

Atlantic Station – Atlanta , GA
The Atlantic Station project is a 138-acre redevelopment of the former Atlantic Steel Mill in midtown
Atlanta . When completed at the end of next year, it will include 12 million square feet of retail, office, residential and hotel space and 11 acres of parks.

The site is a former brownfield site in midtown Atlanta . IKEA, the Swedish home furnishings retailer is planning to build a two-story, 366,000 sq. ft. store on a 15-acre site located at the western edge of the urban redevelopment project. The Atlanta store will be IKEA’s first in Georgia .

IKEA’s announcement in mid-September helps fill a major void at Atlantic Station. Last year, preliminary plans to build a 250,000 sq. ft. aquarium on the same site were scrapped when financial backers opted to construct the aquarium next to Centennial Olympic Park..