Senate, House bills seek tax write-offs for NASCAR tracks

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A bipartisan effort is underway in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that would give the operators of 29 tracks that host NASCAR events a permanent extension of tax write-offs, according to rollcall.com.

There are two bills under consideration. In the Senate, the Motorsports Fairness and Permanency Act is sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan). In the House, an identically named bill has been submitted by Rep. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi).

According to RollCall.com, the bills “would make permanent the accelerated seven-year time frame for writing off improvements to racetracks.”

A previous two-year extension expired at the end of 2014.

The effort would benefit tracks that have come to host more than races throughout the year, including music festivals and car shows.

“They attract valuable hospitality industry dollars. They play an important role in communities where they are located,” said Mark Rosentraub, a sports management professor at the University of Michigan.

Among those against the measures is Steve Ellis, the vice president of the nonprofit watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

“We don’t think it should be added to permanent law,” Ellis told rollcall.com. “When we are talking about comprehensive tax reform and eliminating tax expenditures, this should be on the list for elimination.”

Dan Houser, chief financial officer for International Speedway Corp., said renewing the incentive will help race tracks keep their facilities updated and relevant in competition with amusements parks, which already have a permanent seven-year write-off.

“It’s sexy to talk about NASCAR. This has nothing to do with NASCAR. It benefits the whole industry,” Houser said. “Walt Disney has a similar treatment for its amusement parks.”