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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: Special Tax Breaks for Big Oil?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Special Tax Breaks for Big Oil?

The Senate recently concluded a debate on ending Section 199 deductions of the American Job Creations Act of 2004 for the five largest American oil companies.  With a few exceptions, the debate was framed by language that I believe was designed to elicit an emotional rather than an informed response from voters.  After reading or listening to news accounts of the debate, I was unable to express an informed decision.  I went back to the original legislation and read it.  Because it uses both arcane accounting and legal language, I searched the Internet for short descriptions of the legislation.

William Perez does a nice job of summarizing Section 199 (“Domestic Production Activities Deduction: Section 199 Deduction”).  The entire article is well written and worth the time spent in reading it.  In part, he writes
Here's the basics:
Businesses with "qualified production activities" can take a tax deduction of 3% from net income. This is a tax break pure and simple. The more complicated the business, the more complicated the math for calculating the Domestic Production Activities Deduction. In a nutshell, businesses engaged in manufacturing and other qualified production activities will need to implement cost accounting mechanisms to make sure their tax deduction is accurately calculated.

Domestic Production Activities Deduction
A business engaged in a qualfying production activity is eligible to take a tax deduction of 3% in tax years 2005 and 2006. The deduction increases to 6% in year 2007, and 9% in year 2010.

Qualified Production Activities
A business engaged in the following lines of business may qualify for the Domestic Production Activities Deduction. These are the "qualified production activities" eligible for claiming the deduction under Internal Revenue Code Section 199:

  • Manufacturing based in the United States,
  • Selling, leasing, or licensing items that have been manufactured in the United States,
  • Selling, leasing, or licensing motion pictures that have been produced in the United States,
  • Construction services in the United States, including building and renovation of residential and commercial properties,
  • Engineering and architectural services relating to a US-based construction project,
  • Software development in the United States, including the development of video games.
I hope that this information helps readers obtain an informed opinion.Replace this text with...

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