04.14.15

Ahead of Tax Day, Leahy Proposes Trio of Tax Credit Bills

(TUESDAY, April 14, 2015) – Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (D) Tuesday introduced a trio of tax credit proposals aimed at fighting hunger, supporting the arts, and protecting historic downtowns and villages.  The straightforward proposals are among some of Leahy’s priorities in the broader tax reform debate.   

The three Leahy-authored bills – The Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Extension Act, The Artist-Museum Partnership Act, and The Historic Downtown Preservation and Access Act – would provide measured tax credits for such things as surplus food donations, art donations to museums, libraries and colleges, and for the installation of fire sprinklers and elevators in older, multi-use buildings. Leahy has introduced each of the bills in past Congresses.  There are fledgling signs that the new 114th Congress may be moving tax reform closer to the front of its legislative agenda.

Leahy said:  “We need a tax code that supports the middle class and small businesses and encourages actions that support our communities and those in need.  These are commonsense ideas that support these goals.  Rather than incentivizing wealthy corporations to move American jobs and business offshore, we need to encourage people to make contributions to improving our communities here at home.”

Earlier this year Leahy also introduced tax-related legislation to close a loophole that allows businesses to write of fiscal punishments for corporate wrongdoing.  Leahy’s No Tax Write-Offs for Corporate Wrongdoers Act eliminates that tax break for corporate misconduct.  This bill and the three he introduced Tuesday are among Leahy’s priorities should the Senate consider tax reform this year.

Details of Leahy’s tax credit bills include:

  • The Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Extension Act:  This legislation expands upon a proven and effective tax incentive to encourage businesses and farms to donate surplus food to their local food banks. The bill permanently extends the same tax incentives to donate food, now available to corporations, to all businesses, including small businesses, farmers, ranchers and restaurant owners – many of whom often have large amounts of fresh food to donate.  Leahy’s bill is supported by many organizations including Feeding America, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, the National Restaurant Association, Hunger Free Vermont, and the Vermont Foodbank.  It is cosponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

 

  • Bob Aiken, CEO, Feeding America:  “The entire Feeding America network of food banks and agencies is grateful to Senator Leahy for his leadership on this important issue.  We know that improving tax incentives for farmers and small businesses to donate excess nutritious food is critical to increasing the amount of food donated to people struggling with hunger each year and reducing food waste.”
  • Artist Museum Partnership Act:  This legislation would preserve cherished art works for the public by allowing artists to take a fair market deduction for works they donate to museums, libraries, colleges and other public institutions.  Under current law, artists who donate their created work may only deduct the cost of supplies, while a collector of the same work who donates it to qualified charitable institutions is allowed to take a tax deduction equal to the fair market value of the donated work.  Supporters of the bill include the Association of Art Museum Directors, American Alliance of Museums, Americans for the Arts, League of American Orchestras, OPERA America, Dance/USA, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the Vermont Arts Counsel, and the Shelburne Museum:
    • Thomas Denenberg, Director, Shelburne Museum:  “The Artist-Museum Partnership Act is critical to building strong relationships between artists and museums that collect contemporary art.  This legislation will ensure a robust creative culture for our community and the nation.”
    • Alex Aldrich, Executive Director, Vermont Arts Council:  “Works of art and cultural artifacts are among the most important hallmarks that historians use to understand the functions and motivations of any given society.  The prospect of creating an incentive for artists and their heirs to donate works to collections for their care and exhibition will do wonders for preserving the legacy of our nation's creative output.  That the Artist-Museum Partnership Act is to be considered during the 50th Anniversary of passage of the act that established the National Endowment for the Arts is significant.  Senator Leahy deserves a standing ovation for his decades-long effort to move this legislation through Congress.”
    • Christine Anagnos, Executive Director, Association of Art Museum Directors: “We are immensely grateful to Senator Leahy for introducing the bill.  Museums that collect and exhibit contemporary art, and the public, will benefit from the generous gifts by artists that will follow its passage.”
  • Historic Downtown Preservation And Access Act:  This legislation creates a 50 percent refundable tax credit capped at $50,000 to encourage the installation of upfront but costly sprinkler systems in order to help prevent the loss of life, reduce property damage, and decrease federal expenditures on rebuilding efforts after these fires, and incentivizes the installation of elevators in order to encourage the use of upper-story office, retail, and housing space in historic downtown buildings that would otherwise go unused due to inaccessibility.  The new refundable tax credit is modeled after the State of Vermont’s highly successful downtown historic tax credit.

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