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Congress Gives Away $130 Billion in Corporate Tax Relief

While lawmakers were busy touting tax relief for the “middle class,” they were quietly handing out billions in obscurely reasoned cuts favoring big corporations, in what critics call a reward for campaign funds.
Energy companies, tobacco farmers, engineering giants Bechtel and Halliburton, and even commercial whaling captains and fishing tackle box manufacturers are among the beneficiaries of at least $130 billion in tax cuts passed by Congress last week.
The bill, originally introduced to repeal an export tax break declared illegal by the World Trade Organization, quickly ballooned into what taxpayer advocates are calling the biggest corporate tax cut in 20 years.
"This is nothing more than a very complicated, intricate legislative dance to buy votes," said Keith Ashdown, vice president of policy for the advocacy group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
The bill includes a wide range of tax cuts, including $495 million for shipbuilders, $28 million for the cruise ship industry, $9 million for US arrow manufacturers, and $11 million for makers of fishing tackle boxes. In addition, the bill eliminates excise taxes on sonar devices for finding fish, allows NASCAR track owners to write off their grandstand facilities in seven years -- saving the owners over $100 million -- and gives film and TV studios $336 million in tax breaks over the next five years. The bill also extends a tax credit for purchasing sports utility vehicles and gives tax breaks to the builders of a massive Alaskan pipeline.
A change in the definition of manufacturing accounts for over half of the total tax breaks. Under the new definition, engineering and energy companies, including electricity, oil and natural gas concerns, are classified as manufacturers and qualify for the manufacturing tax credit. The new classification includes giants like Halliburton, Bechtel, and ExxonMobil. The change is expected to cost taxpayers $76.5 billion...


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