Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rolling Reconnect - what it was.

House Bill 2157 ended rolling reconnect and decoupled Oregon from the bonus depreciation business tax break. What more is there to understand? Ok, just kidding. Probably the most laughably incomprehensible lobbying hand out ever was circulated earlier this month by an economics think-tank for the floor vote on the bill. You can read that exact same article here:

I'll try to give you a better description. First, I'll attempt to define some things clearly:

Depreciation: basically the amount that a businesses' machinery, buildings, and other assets lose value every year. Businesses keep records of this as part of their accounting. They have to use formulas that are set by the government, cause the government doesn't want anybody to have any fun.

Tax Credit:
a reduction in total tax liability, often expressed as a downward revision in taxable income. In the case of a business, how that business writes its books can give it depreciation tax credits. So, how it does its accounting, and therefore its depreciation calculation, directly affects its taxable income. This is why the IRS audits businesses from time to time, and why the government is all up in businesses' grills.

Some legislators or lobbyists (nobody I worked for was directly involved in this) figured out that the federal stimulus might contain extra tax credits for businesses based on federal formulas for depreciation. The problem was that the fed wasn't just writing it as a tax credit, but actually declaring that these businesses could claim "extra" depreciation. Oregon, by law, used the federal depreciation standard - we were 'automatically coupled to bonus depreciation' to borrow language from the OCPP. Therefore businesses that got a federal tax credit for depreciation would get a second, bonus state depreciation credit. Thus, the federal stimulus would lead to a state level budget shortfall.

So, 2157 ended that, meaning that the businesses only got the federal credit, not the state one too. Oregon businesses must now track depreciation separately for both the federal and state level if the fed chooses to pass a bonus depreciation allowance.

Hope that helps....

No comments: