March 17

Tax lobbyists help businesses reap windfalls

While Congress fights over ways to cut spending and the deficit, generous breaks for corporations pass with little notice

Click on these examples of high returns for corporate investments in Washington tax lobbying to learn more:

Multinational corporations with overseas investments

  • Approximate return on investment:

Treatment of certain foreign investment income as "active.''
$134.5 million in lobbying. Lobbying spending is inflated by participation of large corporations, which lobby on numerous other issues.
Estimated industry gain: $11.2 billion

Motorsports racing track facilities

  • Approximate return on investment:

Accelerated depreciation for racetracks
$1.5 million in lobbying.
Estimated industry gain: $78 million

Private equity and other fund managers

  • Approximate return on investment:

    At least 3,500%
Lobbied to block change in "carried interest'' tax treatment.
$28 million by industry trade association and large firms.
Estimated industry gain: $1 billion to $4.4 billion (Over two years)

Electric motorcycle manufacturers

  • Approximate return on investment:

Consumer tax credit for electric motorcycle purchase
$200,000 in lobbying by two manufacturers.
Estimated industry gain: $7 million

Domestic appliance manufacturers

  • Approximate return on investment:

Tax credit for producing high-efficiency refrigerators, laundry machines, and dishwashers
$49 million in lobbying. Lobbying expenditure is inflated by participation of General Electric, which lobbies on numerous other issues.
Estimated industry gain: $650 million

Hollywood and TV film producers

  • Approximate return on investment:

Special expensing rules for domestic film and television production
$44.7 million by Motion Picture Association of America and large film production companies.
Estimated industry gain: $430 million


  • Approximate return on investment:

Tax credit for track maintenance
$92 million in lobbying. Figure is highly inflated because railroads lobby on numerous issues.
Estimated industry gain: $331 million

NOTE: Lobbying expenditures are for 2011 and 2012, combined. The amount spent on lobbying on this chart reflects total lobbying activity for companies and industries, not just on taxes (companies are not required to disclose lobbying expenditures by individual issue). That makes the estimated return on investment calculation conservatively low, especially for the largest corporations.

SOURCES: Joint Committee on Taxation, federal lobbying disclosure reports, the Center for Responsive Politics

Patrick Garvin/Globe Staff