The Supreme Court recently ruled that aggregate contribution limits to political candidates are unconstitutional. Although we are disappointed by this outcome, we will continue to push for real-time transparency of hard money contributions.

Join us in our call for real-time                     disclosure

Join Us

Ten ways special interests want to change the U.S. tax code

by and

Sunlight’s new tax lobbying analysis gives the big picture on what tax lobbying looks like, visualizing what happens when 2,221 organizations in 336 sectors spend an estimated combined $773 million to hire 6,503 different lobbyists to advocate on 1,454 bills in a single two-year Congress.

Here, we take a closer look at some of the specific proposed changes to the tax code. The ten bills highlighted here offer a window into the ways in which narrow interests work with lawmakers from both parties to tweak the tax code in narrow ways. Though none of these proposals have been enacted into law (yet), they offer a sampling of the many ways that particular interests work to benefit a particular industry, company, or set of professionals, or to incentivize a particular behavior.

 

S.2258 Songwriters Tax Simplification Reauthorization Act

Top lobbying organization(s): Songwriters Guild of America, Intellectual Property Owners Association

Bill author: Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), 6 co-sponsors

Bill summary: “Amends the Internal Revenue Code, with respect to the tax deduction for depreciation, to make permanent the taxpayer election to amortize over a five-year period expenses incurred in creating or acquiring a musical composition or any copyright with respect to such composition.”*

 

S.909 Private Investment in Commuter Vanpooling Act of 2011

Top lobbying organization(s): IBM

Bill author:  Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK), 1 co-sponsor

Bill summary: “Allows the local matching share of the cost of a public transportation capital project to include expenditures by a private commuter vanpooling service provider to acquire rolling stock (vans). Authorizes such a private provider to use vanpool revenues exceeding operating costs to acquire such vans, if there is a binding agreement requiring the vans to be used in the state or local government's service area.”

 

H.R.1265 To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permanently extend the 15-year recovery period for qualified leasehold improvement property, qualified restaurant property, and qualified retail improvement property.

Top lobbying organization(s): National Restaurant Association, Hong Kong Trade Development Council

Bill author: Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA), 117 co-sponsors

Bill summary: “Amends the Internal Revenue Code to make permanent the 15-year recovery period classification for qualified leasehold improvement, restaurant, and retail improvement property, for purposes of the depreciation tax deduction..”

 

S.672 Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2011

Top lobbying organization(s):  Norfolk Southern

Bill author: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), 51 co-sponsors

Bill summary: “Amends the Internal Revenue Code, with respect to the tax credit for railroad track maintenance, to: (1) expand the types of maintenance expenditures eligible for such credit, and (2) extend such credit through 2017.”

 

H.R.2198 To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase the alternative tax liability limitation for small property and casualty insurance companies.

Top lobbying organization(s): Northwestern Mutual, Nationwide Mutual Insurance

Bill author: Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN), 45 co-sponsors

Bill summary: “Amends the Internal Revenue Code to expand the eligibility of certain small insurance companies (other than life insurance companies) for the alternative corporate income tax by increasing the premium limitation used to determine such eligibility to $2.025 million (from $1.2 million), with an annual inflation adjustment after 2012.”

 

H.R.2604 To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for the treatment of securities of a controlled corporation exchanged for assets in certain reorganizations.

Top lobbying organization(s): Communications Workers of America

Bill author: Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), 21 co-sponsors

Bill summary: “Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow nonrecognition of gain in a corporate reorganization for corporations that exchange property solely for stock other than nonqualified preferred stock.”

 

S.1035 Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act of 2011

Top lobbying organization(s): Congressional Fire Services InstituteBuilding Owners & Managers Association

Bill author: Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), 5 co-sponsors

Bill summary: “Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow: (1) 100% expensing in a current taxable year of the cost of an automated fire sprinkler system, as defined by this Act; and (2) accelerated depreciation (i.e., a 15-year recovery period) of such an automated fire sprinkler systems that is installed in a building where the floor of any occupiable story is greater than 75 feet above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access.”

 

S.930 Art and Collectibles Capital Gains Tax Treatment Parity Act

Top lobbying organization(s): American Symphony Orchestra League, American Association of Museums

Bill author: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), 2 co-sponsors

Bill summary: “Art and Collectibles Capital Gains Tax Treatment Parity Act - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) eliminate the 28% capital gains tax rate for collectibles, thus allowing gain from the sale of collectibles (including art works) to be taxed at the 15% tax rate applicable to other investment property; and (2) allow the creator of a literary, musical, artistic, or scholarly property a fair market value tax deduction for the donation of such property to a tax-exempt organization, if properly appraised and donated no sooner than 18 months after its creation.”

 

S.905 Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act

Top lobbying organization(s): Hearing Industries Association

Bill author:  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), 10 co-sponsors

Bill summary: “Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow an individual taxpayer to elect once every five years a nonrefundable income tax credit of up to $500 for the purchase of a qualified hearing aid for use by the taxpayer or a dependent.”

 

S.1174 Motorsports Fairness and Permanency Act

Top lobbying organization(s): American Motorcyclist Association, International Speedway

Bill author: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), 12 co-sponsors

Bill summary: “Amends the Internal Revenue Code to make permanent the classification, for depreciation purposes, of any motorsports entertainment complex as seven-year property.”

 

S.700 A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permanently extend the treatment of certain farming business machinery and equipment as 5-year property for purposes of depreciation.

Top lobbying organization(s): North American Equipment Dealers Association, Agricultural Retailers Association 

Bill author: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), 11 co-sponsors

Bill summary: “Amends the Internal Revenue Code to make permanent the classification of certain farming business machinery and equipment as five-year property for purposes of the tax deduction for depreciation.”

*all bill summaries from the Congressional Research Service