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DATE News (chronologically)
08/11/11
Track News
NASCAR track owners may lose their tax breaks
SMI and ISC, who own most of the NASCAR tracks, may lose their tax breaks
Short line railroads, the government of American Samoa and owners of Nascar tracks are among a diverse group that may encounter added resistance in a drive to protect billions of dollars in U.S. tax breaks.

Each year or two lawmakers collect dozens of unrelated tax advantages for businesses and individuals and renew them in one measure. The grab bag is a bonanza for lobbyists stretching from Daytona Beach, Florida, to Pago Pago in American Samoa.

“Over time, they’ve been collected together and considered as a package. Some of these provisions move by inertia,” said Marc Gerson, a former Republican tax counsel to the House Ways and Means Committee. “There hasn’t been a separate evaluation of their merits,” he told Bloomberg Government.

Though such tax breaks are a relatively small part of the proposed $3.7 trillion federal budget, they are sure to undergo tougher scrutiny at a time when Congress is pressing for cost- cutting solutions to narrow the federal deficit.

The most recent array of at least 33 tax renewals -- also known as extenders -- add up to an estimated $30 billion for 2012, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. That doesn’t count a $6 billion ethanol tax credit that the Senate in June voted to end.

The ethanol credit and other tax breaks in the current extenders package are due to expire on Dec. 31. In the meantime Congress may consider an overhaul of the tax code while lowering the overall rate, making it more likely each extender will be studied individually.

Daytona’s Break
Daniel Houser, chief financial officer of the International Speedway Corp. (ISCA) of Daytona Beach, which operates 12 Nascar tracks, said shortened depreciation of track construction projects -- expected to cost the Treasury about $29 million if extended in 2012 -- is an economic stimulus.

“These are shovel-ready projects that we are financing,” he said.  Bloomberg News

The speedway group is lobbying to make its 7-year-old tax benefit permanent, Houser said.

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