SOM Tour 2016: New Hampshire Is a Hotbed of Innovative Manufacturing

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A State of Manufacturing Tour guest blog post by Jim Roche, president of the Business & Industry Association, New Hampshire’s statewide Chamber of Commerce 

Today, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) kicked off its 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour in New Hampshire—and with good reason! New Hampshire is a hotbed of innovative manufacturing and home to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary less than two weeks from now.

Here at the Business & Industry Association (BIA) of New Hampshire, the NAM’s official affiliate in the Granite State, we fight every day for policies that support our manufacturers—our state’s most important job creators. We push state legislators, the governor, our congressional delegation and regulators for public policy and commonsense solutions that are friendly to job creators and promote prosperity for New Hampshire businesses.

At today’s stop, the NAM laid out several key public policies that will help put manufacturing in America on solid ground, including important ideas likjim rochee fixing our outdated tax code and upgrading old infrastructure to take us toward a more modern economy.

Today’s tour also highlighted the many ways manufacturers are changing our lives for the better. Manufacturing has grown well beyond the outdated images of mill and textile work, particularly in New England. Today, manufacturing leads in electronics, fabricated metals, machinery and technology. And manufacturing is connecting people across continents. The sector offers outstanding jobs and careers for nearly 68,000 New Hampshire workers. New Hampshire’s manufacturers export almost $4 billion of goods around the world every year, bringing new wealth and economic activity into our state’s economy.

As we move deeper into this important election season, manufacturing voters are asking candidates hard questions about how they will help America compete to win in a global economy. No matter the outcome of the election, we need policies that support today’s diverse and dynamic manufacturers. When manufacturing succeeds, we’re all better off.


NAM Takes on “Cadillac Tax” in The Washington Post

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On Saturday, a letter to the editor from National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President of Government Relations Joe Trauger ran in The Washington Post highlighting manufacturers’ concerns with the employee benefits tax, commonly called the “Cadillac tax.” This 40 percent tax on employee benefits is a major issue for manufacturers as rising health care costs remain a top concern.

“The recent ‘Cadillac tax’ editorial missed the mark regarding the so-called virtues of the Affordable Care Act’s tax on employee benefits. To suggest that doing away with on-site clinics, flexible spending accounts and other benefits is good policy and will reduce health-care spending is misguided. Manufacturers have identified health-care expenditures as one of their top business challenges. The ACA has done nothing to mitigate those concerns. Most manufacturers will tell you that coverage is more expensive as a result of the law.”

Last week, the NAM released a new study looking at this costly tax. NAM’s SVP of Communications Erin Streeter and SVP of Policy and Government Affairs Aric Newhouse discussed the impacts of the tax in our ShopTalk video series and the action congress is debating to provide relief. As soon as this week, Congress could once again be voting on a delay of this costly tax.

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Chief Senate Tax Writer Calls for IRS to Stop Use of “Hired Guns” in Taxpayer Exams

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) this afternoon sent a strongly worded letter to IRS Commission John Koskinen asking him to “immediately halt” the practice of using private attorneys to carry out taxpayer examinations including taking sworn testimony from taxpayers. In May of 2014, the IRS retained the global litigation firm of Quinn Emanuel on a $2.2 million contract to assist in the income tax audit and investigation of a corporate taxpayer, including the conduct of sworn interviews.  Shortly after retaining the firm, Treasury and IRS issued a temporary regulation allowing third party contractors to take compulsory, sworn testimony in connection with an IRS investigation.  According to the IRS, the temporary regulation—issued without a notice and comment period—represented a “clarification” of existing law.

The Finance Committee Chairman doesn’t agree with the IRS’ assessment, noting that the temporary regulation represents “an unprecedented expansion of the role of outside contractors in the examination process.” Moreover, according to Senator Hatch, the IRS’ hiring of a private law firm to conduct a taxpayer exam: appears to violate federal law and the express will of Congress; removes taxpayer protections by allowing the performance of inherently governmental functions by private contractors; and calls into question the IRS’s use of its limited resources.


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As the NAM’s Chief Economist, Chad Moutray, pointed out in his blog “The U.S. Economy Stagnated in the First Quarter” on yesterday’s dismal GDP numbers, there are “a number of headwinds in the economy which have negatively impacted manufacturing activity. These challenges include weaknesses abroad, a strong U.S. dollar, lower crude oil prices, a West Coast ports slowdown, bad weather in some regions of the country and a still-cautious consumer.” As Dr. Moutray pointed out, a significant “challenge for manufacturers was the fact that consumer spending on goods was up only 0.2 percent. Businesses also spent dramatically less on nonresidential structures, with equipment spending slowing to a crawl.” Read More

Death and Taxes – Estate Tax Repeal Introduced in Senate

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While death and taxes are two facts of modern life, death by taxes may soon be less of a worry for small and medium-sized family-owned manufacturers. During last week’s budget “Vote-a-rama,” where hundreds of amendments were offered and considered, Senator John Thune (R-SD) proposed S. AMDT. 607 to reintroduce his plan to repeal the “death tax.” This macabre term is given to the burdensome estate tax on an owner’s right to transfer property at his/her death. Read More

Let’s Set the Record Straight on “Transparency” and “Loopholes

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One of NAM’s goals is to make the United States the best place to manufacture and attract foreign direct investment. There are many things policy makers can do to help achieve this goal, including creating a favorable tax climate. On the flip side, there are a number of ways policy makers can make this goal even harder to achieve, for example by imposing costly, unnecessary, anti-competitive rules and regulations. A case in point is legislation—the Truth in Settlements Act—introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and several other bills that aim to change the tax treatment of fines and penalties. Read More

NAM Applauds IRS Reconsideration of Flawed Rule Limiting Speech

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The IRS has announced it will revisit its proposed rule limiting the types of First Amendment activities in which nonprofit organizations may engage. Perhaps the more than 150,000 comments submitted to the agency from groups across the political spectrum or the bipartisan House vote to stop the IRS from modifying the rules helped them see their error.

The NAM filed comments on the rule outlining our concerns about the broad sweep of this rule which could end up eliminating that ability of nonprofit groups to engage in good government efforts such as nonpartisan get out the vote (GOTV) efforts and voter registration activities. We believe our nation remains strong when job creators exercise their Constitutional rights and speak out about public policies that impact growth and U.S. job creation.

Furthermore, an educated electorate is critical to a well-functioning democracy and nonprofit groups across the political spectrum play an important role in this endeavor.   The Supreme Court repeatedly has recognized that voluntary associations are key participants in the public debate and that government’s attempt to stifle their voice violates the First Amendment.

The proposed IRS regulations offered to put us on a path to weakening those rights—we hope they will take a very different course in the next version of this rule.  Regardless, the NAM stands ready to fight against any further attempt to use tax regulations to restrict political speech and activities that are protected by our Constitution.

Senate Taxwriters Look At Ways to Synchronize State Tax Laws

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Manufacturers that sell/and or distribute  their products outside of their home state—and that’s most Manufacturers—currently face a myriad of confusing and conflicting tax rules that cost them time, money and sometimes, business.  In a tax reform options paper  on Economic and Community Development released May 15th, the Senate Finance Committee did a good job of outlining some changes Congress could make to ensure that tax rules are consistent among the states, thus reducing potential double taxation and compliance costs, while also providing some certainty to states struggling to balance their budget.  And that’s a win-win in our eyes.

The NAM-supported chances include:

  • Establishing uniform rules for taxing digital goods and services so that manufacturers would no longer be subject to taxation from multiple states based on just one online transaction.  The Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act, introduced last Congress by Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) would eliminate duplicative taxes on digital goods;
  • Creating a bright-line test for when a state can assess income tax on an out-of-state employee who is temporarily working in that state.  The Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act, introduced by Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), would establish a 30 day bright-line test before states could tax these employees.
  • Permanently extending the moratorium on Internet access taxes and multiple and discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce.  Without an extension of this moratorium, which expires in 2014, businesses of all sizes could be facing new taxes, further increasing the cost of doing business in the United States.  The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act of 2013 introduced by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in the Senate and Steve Chabot (R-OH) in the House, would permanently ban the internet tax; and,
  • Clarifying how much activity a business must engage in within a state to become subject to that state’s business activity taxes.  The NAM has supported legislation (Business Activity Tax Simplification Act) to establish a bright-line, physical presence test clarifying when states can impose business activity taxes so that manufacturers will no longer be subject to punitive tax assessments by states where they have no plant or employees in the state.

While the Senate taxwriters make it clear that their paper discusses options, not proposals, we’re glad that these common-sense clarifications were part of the mix.  Each of the options outlined above would further spur economic and job growth by reducing the complexities brought on by having a plethora of differing state taxation rules creating administrative, compliance, and duplicative taxation burdens for manufacturers in the United States.

Christina Crooks is director of tax policy, National Association of Manufacturers.


Setting the Record Straight on a Carbon Tax

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This morning, the Washington Post editorial board again called for a carbon tax with the piece “Carbon tax is the best option Congress has.”  It’s the second time in the last two months (and fourth in the past six months) the Post has called for this tax, which has the potential to hurt jobs and our economy. It’s a surprising amount of attention for a concept that has little to no political legs in Congress.

Congress isn’t talking about a carbon tax because when a cap-and-trade bill like Waxman-Markey is labeled a “job-killing energy tax” and can’t win support in the Senate, it’s hard to get behind a bill that would impose an actual energy tax.

Also, a carbon tax does not appear to be the economic or environmental panacea the Post is making it out to be.  A recent economic study for the NAM conducted by the nonpartisan NERA Economic Consulting looked at two carbon tax scenarios: one levied at $20 per ton increasing at 4 percent, and the other designed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 80 percent. In both cases, any revenue raised by the carbon tax would be far outweighed by the negative impact to the overall economy.

Both cases would hurt families and businesses, resulting in higher prices for natural gas, electricity, gasoline and other energy commodities.  The $20/ton case reduces U.S. CO2 emissions by only about 30 percent, a much smaller amount than was called for in Waxman-Markey and by leading climate advocates.  To get to the levels they are seeking, 80 percent reductions by 2050, the economic costs skyrocket. Read More

Yes, We’re still #1

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Sometimes the ranking of #1 is a dubious distinction… surely no one wants to be #1 on the “worst companies to work for” list, the “worst Super Bowl Commercial” list, the “worst movie of all time” list or the “worst dressed” list, but one year after Japan’s corporate tax rate cut went into effect, the U.S. continues to be home to the highest corporate tax rate in the world.

We live in a competitive world. Everyone, from executives, to states, to countries, wants to be able to compete for investment and jobs – and that is all the more true in the aftermath of the great recession. Yet, a year after reaching this “pinnacle” of worst tax policy, nothing has changed.

The NAM has long advocated for comprehensive pro-growth, pro-job tax reform that will result in a permanent competitive tax code that will allow the U.S. to compete with our peers around the world. As articulated in in the recently released Growth Agenda, “The United States needs a comprehensive plan for economic growth. A bipartisan commitment in Washington to pro-growth policies will make our nation a more competitive place to do business.”  At the heart of this plan is an updated tax code and to improve our competitiveness, it is essential that the United States overhaul its tax system at the corporate and individual levels – something that has not been undertaken in nearly 30 years.

Manufacturers have applauded the stated commitment of the Chairmen of the Congressional tax writing committees – the House Committee on Ways & Means and the Senate Finance Committee – to undertaking comprehensive tax reform. We have high hopes that under the leadership of Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) respectively, the Committees will succeed in this effort this Congress. And we continue to weigh in with both committees as to what manufacturers believe must be included in any comprehensive tax reform plan to make it competitive for manufacturing which at the heart must include creating a national tax climate that enhances the global competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States and the avoidance of policy changes that would increase the tax burden on the manufacturing sector, discouraging job creation and investment. Read More