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The NASCAR Loophole

2008 Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway2008 Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a time when stock car racing was an outlaw sport.  Some of the greatest of the early drivers learned their skills hauling moonshine. Most conspicuously, Junior Johnson who did a stretch in the federal crossbar hotel.  But the days of Junior, Richard, Dale, and the rest of them are long past.  NASCAR went corporate and like all “mature industries,” it learned how to play cozy with Washington.  

A tax break for racetrack depreciation is facing the ax in one of those temporary fits of Congressional fiscal prudence.  The loophole (a term NASCAR disputes, it is an “incentive’) became law, as Bernie Becker of The Hill writes:

"... in 2004, during the heat of a presidential election in which both then-President George W. Bush and then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) were competing for the votes of “NASCAR dads.”

Those in favor of the tax break are hauling out the usual arguments:

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), both members of the tax-writing committees, have introduced measures to permanently extend the tracks’ current tax treatment. Stabenow said last week that the Michigan International Speedway ... generates more than $400 million a year in economic activity. “It’s a matter of just talking about how this is an economic engine for many communities around the country,” Stabenow said.

And, then, there is the argument that NASCAR and its tracks should get tax breaks equal to those extended to Disney and its theme parks.

NASCAR pleading to be treated like Disney.

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