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From the Marbles

NASCAR tracks get part of a nice little $70 million perk in the fiscal cliff deal [UPDATED]

Jay Busbee
From The Marbles

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With minutes to spare, the president and Congress pulled America away from the fiscal cliff, a deal reached amid partisan posturing and acrimony, which ... OK, look, I know you didn't come here for any kind of political nonsense, so let's get to it: the fiscal cliff deal, which saves most of us some money but costs most drivers a lot more, has buried within its dank recesses a nice little perk for many of your favorite race tracks.

Here's the deal: NASCAR tracks stand to benefit from an estimated $70 million in tax credits— due to an extension included in the fiscal cliff deal. [Note: An earlier version of this article characterized the tax credit in an unclear fashion.]

The so-called "NASCAR tax credit" allows "certain motorsports racing track facilities" (not just NASCAR ones) to write off their costs over just seven years, rather than the usual 15 to 39 years. Compacting the writeoff period allows the tracks to pay fewer taxes over that time. The tax credit is located under section 168(i)(15) of the federal tax code, but you already knew that.

If you have eaten lately, you might not want to click this link — it's a rundown of every special interest that gained in the fiscal cliff deal. Railroads, electric motorcycle makers, Hollywood, and rum producers were among the others who gained from the fiscal cliff deal.

First track to do a "Thanks for not pushing us over the fiscal cliff!" ticket promotion wins ... well, nothing, because they're already saving tax money. But they should do it anyway.

UPDATE: International Speedway Corporation's Charles Talbert, Senior Director for Investor and Corporate Communications, offered the following statement to Yahoo! Sports in response to this article:

"I wanted to follow up on your article you posted [Wednesday] regarding the extension of 7-year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complexes, which has been unfairly referenced as the 'NASCAR tax credit.'  Your statement, ‘…NASCAR tracks will hang onto $70 mil that otherwise would have ended up in the U.S. Treasury…’ is misleading.  The provision you reference is not a tax break and does not result in ISC or other track owners paying less tax.  Rather it simply preserves the same tax treatment the industry has used for decades.

"I imagine Austin’s Circuit of the Americas F1 motorsports complex and the hundreds of millions of dollars invested will benefit from the extension as will the tracks that host IndyCar, NHRA, ARCA and the nearly 1000 other smaller tracks that promote motorsports.   International Speedway Corporation never sought any tax treatment that was different from the treatment the industry has used since its inception.  We are an industry that regularly buys and replaces real property and regularly pays corporate taxes.  We also use private money to finance our operations, choosing not to ask locals or business travelers to pay our freight.  But we can't abide the IRS changing the way our business operates when Congress never acted to allow it.  The provision Congress enacted simply continued current practice.  This topic will come up again and I would be open to speaking with you on the issues.  The misreporting on this issue is rampant, and not at all consistent with the facts."

UPDATE 2: Thanks for the love, Jalopnik.

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-

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