Industries unite in defense of tax break

Trade groups and companies are banding together in a new industry coalition that will work to protect a popular tax provision.

Lobbying heavyweights such as Comcast and The American Petroleum Institute have already signed up with the Cost Recovery Advances the Nation's Economy coalition (CRANE), which will press lawmakers to keep accelerated depreciation in the tax code.

The group is already planning a series of meetings with lawmakers who sit on the tax-writing panels. After that, spokesman Kevin Dempsey says, representatives from the coalition will be visiting new members to present the benefits of accelerated depreciation.

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“Accelerated depreciation is vital to help our industries drive the country’s economic growth,” said Dempsey, who noted the coalition's membership spans the tech, manufacturing and energy sectors.

Formed by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and American Iron and Steel Institute, Dempsey told The Hill that the coalition would seek to grow its membership list.

Atlas Air Worldwide, National Marine Manufacturers Association, and Praxair, Inc., are also initial members.

“We want to make sure that the question of, how do we best promote investment that creates jobs and economic growth, is a part of tax reform as it moves forward,” said Dempsey, also a senior vice president for public policy and general counsel at the American Iron and Steel Institute.

In addition, CRANE will employ lobby firm Ogilvy Government Affairs to manage the coalition.

Accelerated depreciation, which has been part of IRS rules for three decades, helps manufacturers and others with their tax bills by allowing them to write off business-related investments — including equipment and machinery — more quickly.

The provision has long had bipartisan support, with lawmakers arguing it helps to spur investment. Some, however, are critical of the tax break and say it hasn’t delivered the promised benefits.

The Joint Economic Committee, under then-Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyLawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families How centrist Dems learned to stop worrying and love impeachment On The Money: Senate passes first spending package as shutdown looms | Treasury moves to roll back Obama rules on offshore tax deals | Trade deal talks manage to weather Trump impeachment storm MORE (R-Texas), released a report during tax reform talks highlighting the benefits of accelerated depreciation, also known as cost-recovery.

Brady told The Hill that, even though both parties are behind the provision, a lobbying push may still be needed to keep it in place during discussions about comprehensive reform.

"There are always trade-offs to be made to try and simplify the code and lower the rate, and everything is considered on the table as you do that," Brady said. "You have to make tough decisions,"

"Clearly, the group is trying to make the formidable case cost-recovery should be considered right alongside lowering rates, in terms of being top priority."

To supplement its advocacy, CRANE plans to commission additional economic studies measuring the benefits of the provision, to be released “over the next few months.”

“The CRANE coalition will make clear that leading voices within the business community believe strongly that accelerated depreciation must play a role in any tax reform discussion to help us achieve that important goal by keeping America competitive for capital investment,” Dempsey said.