Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bader to Lamborn: Here are some ideas

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 4:08 PM

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Last Wednesday, a group of protesters showed up outside U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn's Colorado Springs office in the hopes of attracting the Republican to their way of thinking. They had along with them a treatise that offered the 10 Critical Steps to Get Our Economy Back on Track, as imagined by the coalition the Contract for the American Dream.

The protest was civil, and after a while, a number of them were brought into Lamborn's conference room to meet with his district director, Dan Nordberg.

The conversation apparently went about how you'd expect it to go. While both sides could agree that there needs to be something done about job creation, and to make the tax code more equitable — no one, not even Nordberg, could defend a massive corporation such as GE not paying income taxes — the methods to correct these issues were not simply not something that was going to be decided upon at that conference table.

Ideological disagreements aside, Nordberg is just a messenger.

But this meeting did provide the opportunity for Chuck Bader, vice president of Colorado AFL-CIO, to pass along some info on existing legislation that he believes Lamborn ought to read, consider, and then support. Nordberg has since passed the list onto Lamborn's legislative director and told me that he would provide the Indy with a response, if and when there is one.

After the jump are those pieces of legislation.

H.R.1124 -Fairness in Taxation Act

This bill would "amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to impose increased rates of tax with respect to taxpayers with more than $1,000,000 taxable income, and for other purposes."

This seems pretty obvious. It has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

• H.R.126 - Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act

This one threw me, as H.R. 126 in the 112th session of Congress, our current session, is the Fairness in Firearm Training Act. So I inquired with Bader, and he clarified that he left off the last number. The bill he was referencing was H.R. 1265.

Now that sort of makes more sense, but the title of that bill is not the "Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act." The current H.R. 1265 would "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."

Where it gets even more confusing, however, is in noting that the 111th session of Congress, H.R. 1265 was the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act.

I followed up with Bader over this, but haven't heard back yet.

H.R.110 - Manufacturing Reinvestment Account Act of 2011

This bill would "amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow manufacturing businesses to establish tax-free manufacturing reinvestment accounts to assist them in providing for new equipment and facilities and workforce training."

According to a press release out of the office of the bill's sponsor Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the Alliance for American Manufacturing figures that "U.S. manufacturing firms employ 14 million Americans directly and create 8 million additional jobs, contributing $1.6 trillion or 12 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product."

Specifically, the Manufacturing Reinvestment Account Act would:

Establish Manufacturing Reinvestment Accounts (MRAs): Allow qualified manufacturing businesses (as defined in Section 199, Internal Revenue Code) to establish a manufacturing reinvestment account (MRA), similar to an individual retirement account (IRA), in a community bank (an institution with total assets of equal to or less than $25 billion).

Set up Parameters for MRAs: Allow manufacturing businesses to make deductible, annual contributions using pre-tax profits from its manufacturing line of up to $500,000 into the MRA. Contributions to the MRA may remain in the account for up to 7 years, at which point they must be used to make investments for the purchase of equipment and facilities or for job training, including workforce development. A business cannot maintain more than one MRA in any taxable year. The bill sunsets after 10 years.

Create IRA-Type Tax Structure: The bill would treat distributions from the MRA as taxable income, at an effective low tax rate of 15 percent, with normal deductions taken for any costs that are appropriate to the qualified investment. The MRA is subject to IRS reporting requirements just as IRAs are, and any withdrawal must include a report to the IRS on what investment is being made. The business would face a 10 percent penalty tax, like an IRA, in addition to regular taxes for MRA savings not reinvested after 7 years or for the use of MRA funds for non-qualified investments. Firms facing financial hardship are allowed penalty-free MRA withdrawals to stave off bankruptcy much as most tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts allow penalty-free pre-retirement withdrawals for special purposes. In the case of a firm that ceases to be a manufacturing business, the firm will have a one-year grace period at which point the balance in the MRA is treated as distributed from the account.

H.R.286 - Johnson Space Center Workforce Stability Act of 2011

This is a bill out of Texas, sponsored by Texas Rep. Al Green, that would create a job-training program for "any affected worker in the Johnson Space Center region to transition to a new job. ... [and] the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Economic Development Administration of the Department of Commerce, shall enter into cooperative agreements with eligible recipients in the Johnson Space Center region to help stabilize the workforce in such region and to promote economic growth."

The Johnson Space Center region refers to the geographical area surrounding the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

H.R.516 - Bring Jobs Back to America Act

This bill "directs the Secretary of Commerce to create a comprehensive national manufacturing strategy to increase overall domestic manufacturing, create private sector jobs, identify emerging technologies, and identify a strategy for repatriating jobs to the United States. Requires the Secretary to: (1) establish targets for manufacturing growth; (2) conduct biennial surveys of U.S. businesses that maintain manufacturing facilities or customer service centers outside the United States; and (3) report on survey results."

H.R.1066 - Federal Firefighters Fairness Act of 2011

This bill would establish that "specified diseases, including heart disease, lung disease, tuberculosis, hepatatis, human immunodeficiency virus, and specified cancers, of federal employees in fire protection activities shall be presumed to be proximately caused by such employment if the employee is diagnosed with the disease within 10 years of the last active date of employment in fire protection activities; (2) the disability or death of such an employee due to such a disease shall be presumed to result from personal injury sustained while in the performance of duty; and (3) such presumptions may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence."

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