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December 18, 2015

Congress has passed a tax extender bill called the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 that includes several provisions important to the horse industry and supported by the American Horse Council.  

At the end of 2014, a number of favorable tax provisions for horse owners, breeders and businesses expired. In all, over sixty tax provisions expired; some applied to all businesses, including the horse industry, and one was specifically applicable to owners of race horses. All of the provisions extended are retroactive for all of 2015.

Importantly, the bill would reinstate 3-year-depreciation for all race horses for two more years. From 2009 through 2014, race horses could be depreciated over three years, regardless of when they were placed in service. This change, which eliminated the 7-year depreciation period for race horses and made all race horses eligible for three-year depreciation, expired at the end of 2014. The just passed extender bill would reinstate 3-year-depreciation for race horses placed in service after December 31, 2014 through 2016.

The bill would also increase the so-called Section 179 business expense deduction back to $500,000 and make this provision permanent. It is currently set at $25,000. This would allow anyone in the horse business to immediately depreciate up to $500,000 of the cost of any investment in business assets, including horses, purchased and placed in service. The deduction would be reduced dollar-for-dollar once investment in all one’s business activities hit $2 million.

The bill would restore bonus depreciation for qualifying new property, including assets used in the horse business, such as horses and other equipment, purchased and placed in service during 2015 through 2019. The bonus depreciation percentage is 50 percent for property placed in service during 2015, 2016 and 2017 and phases down to 40 percent in 2018, and 30 percent in 2019. The first use of the horse or equipment must begin with the taxpayer.

The extender bill would also restore and make permanent favorable tax treatment for land donated for conservation purposes, particularly land donated by farmers and ranchers.

The AHC supported the tax extender bill and originally achieved the 3-year-depreciation of race horses provision in the 2008 Farm Bill and supported its inclusion in subsequent tax extension bills, including this one.

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Congress has passed an omnibus appropriations bill, which will fund the government through September 30, 2016. This bill is a package that includes all 12 of the FY 2016 appropriations bills, and will fund government agencies and programs until the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2016.

The omnibus bill contains several provisions that impact the horse industry, including reforms to the H-2B temporary guest worker program, the U.S. Department Agriculture (USDA) FY 2016 appropriations bill, defunding of horse slaughter, and reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

H-2B Temporary Worker Program

The bill includes several beneficial provisions relating to the H-2B temporary, non-agricultural worker program and would roll back some of the most onerous provisions of a 2015 H-2B rule. The AHC has been working to ensure these provisions were included in the omnibus bill. These provisions will make the H-2B program less burdensome for employers, including those in the horse industry to use. The bill will do the following:

  • Exempt H-2B returning workers from the 66,000 annual cap;
  • Require wages to be based on the job category and experience level required, rather than an artificially inflated median wage;
  • Clearly define seasonal as ten months, as opposed to the nine months in the 2015 H-2B rule;
  • Prevent the Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing the provisions of the 2015 H-2B rule related to corresponding employment and the ¾ guarantee of work days; and
  • Prevent DOL from implementing the new and burdensome DOL enforcement scheme in the 2015 H-2B rule related to audits and the Certifying Officer (CO) assisted recruitment. 

These provisions will make the H-2B program easier to use and were supported by the AHC.

FY 2015 USDA Appropriations

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Equine Health

The bill appropriates $898 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is the USDA agency responsible for protecting the U.S. equine industry and responding to contagious equine disease outbreaks.   Funding for Equine, Cervid, and Small Rumiant health is set at $19.5 million, the same as FY 2015.

 

Horse Slaughter

The bill includes language that prohibits USDA from using any funds to provide inspectors at meat processing facilities that slaughter horses, continuing a block that begin in 2005, except for a brief period in 2012 and 2013.

No horse slaughter facilities are operating in the U.S. and this bill would effectively prevent any such facility from opening until September 30, 2016.

The language was included in the omnibus bill because the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment that prohibited funding for inspectors at horse slaughter facilities when they debated and approved their respective version of the FY 2016 USDA appropriations bill. The Senate amendment was offered in committee by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and passed by a voice vote.

Horse Protection Act

The bill provides $697,000 for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA), the same as FY 2015. The HPA was enacted in 1970 to prevent the soring of horses, primarily Tennessee Walking Horses.

Because soring continues to be a problem in the “big lick” segment of the Walking Horse industry, the AHC has been working to pass the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST Act) (S.1121/ H.R.3268). The PAST act would strengthen the HPA and end this cruel practice. 

The Land and Water Conservation Fund

The bill will also reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for three years with funding of $450 million for the coming FY 2016, a nearly 50 percent increase over the previous level.

The program, which expired on October 1, 2015, provides funds and matching grants to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of land and water for recreation and the protection of natural resources. The LWCF program benefits recreational riders by providing increased recreational opportunities. 

Wild Horses and Burros

The omnibus bill also includes a provision that would prohibit the Bureau of Land Management from euthanizing healthy wild horses in its care or from selling wild horses or burros that results in their being processed into commercial products.

The bill is expected to be signed by the President shortly.

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(Washington, DC)- In what might be seen as a thaw in Congressional relations, a bi-partisan tax bill, with multiple provisions favorable to the horse industry, has been passed by Congress. Although the bill has now touched down safely, there were a few gusts and swells that threatened its passage right up to the end. President Obama signed it immediately.

The $622 billion bill extends or reinstates multiple tax provisions that have been raised, lowered, or allowed to expire over the last decade. Some have now been made permanent in the new bill; others extended for one or two years; but all are retroactive to January 1, 2015 so horse owners and industry stakeholders can take advantage of them for this year.

The bill, called the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, includes several provisions important to the horse industry and championed by the American Horse Council for some time. These benefits include making all race horses depreciable over three years; the ability to immediately expense or write-off up to $500,000 in depreciable business property; and bonus depreciation, which allows the deduction of 50% of the cost of new property purchased and placed in service. All of these provisions apply to horses and other assets used in a horse business.

The bill reinstates the 3-year-depreciation schedule for all race horses for all of 2015 and 2016. “This means that if an owner has begun training or racing a horse this year, or will begin training or racing it next year, the three-year depreciation schedule will apply. Owners and trainers don’t have to get involved in deciding when to begin training the horse to qualify for the 3-year period, rather than 7 year; it is automatic for all race horses placed in service in 2015 and 2016. The provision allows horse owners to begin training their race horses when they think best and take advantage of the shorter three-year period,” noted American Horse Council president Jay Hickey. “Most horses race over three years, not seven, so this is really a fairer schedule.”

The bill also raises the so-called Section 179 business expense deduction back to $500,000 and makes it permanent, effective January 1, 2015. It had reverted to $25,000 for 2015. This change will allow anyone in the horse business to immediately depreciate up to $500,000 of the cost of any investment in industry assets, including horses, fences, equipment, tack, trucks, etc., purchased and placed in service in 2015 and 2016. The deduction is still reduced dollar-for-dollar once investments in all one’s business activities hit $2 million.

“The 179 expense deduction is a real stimulus to the $102 billion horse industry and will support thousands of jobs,” said Hickey. “And it applies to all depreciable assets used in the horse business, including horses, be they yearlings, race or show horses, mares, stallions, or breeding shares.”

The bill restores bonus depreciation for qualifying new property, including assets used in the horse business, such as yearlings and other equipment, purchased and placed in service during 2015 through 2019. It had expired for 2015, but is now restored to 50 percent for business property placed in service during 2015, 2016 and 2017. It then phases down to 40 percent in 2018, and 30 percent in 2019. The first use of the horse or equipment must begin with the taxpayer. Yearlings are eligible for bonus depreciation and new equipment, but not horses like mares or stallions that have raced, shown, or been bred, since they have already been used.

The extender bill would also restore and make permanent favorable tax treatment for land donated for conservation purposes, particularly land donated by farmers and ranchers.

"The AHC has been working to have all these provisions increased or reinstated and is pleased they have been acted upon. They have been made retroactive to cover all of 2015. “We had hoped these provisions would have been extended earlier in the year. This would have made planning and decisions to invest in the horse business easier. Congress apparently follows the ‘better late than never schedule’,” said Hickey.

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Grassroots efforts from equestrians played important role in making sure RTP was included in the FAST Act

 

(Washington, DC)- Congress has passed and the President has signed a multi-year national highway bill known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or the FAST Act. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program (RTP) for the next five years and provides $85 million annually for the program.

 

The last highway bill was set to expire in December and Congress has been working on various versions of a national surface transportation bill for most of this year.  During the Congressional process several attempts were made to eliminate the RTP program from the bill.  However, these attempts were unsuccessful. 

 

“We are very pleased RTP was included in the FAST Act. Every time a multi-year national highway bill is debated there is always an attempt to eliminate this program and this time was no different,” said AHC vice president of government affairs Ben Pendergrass.  “Grassroots support from recreational trail users, including many equestrians, played an important role in making sure RTP was included in bill. The AHC appreciates all the individual horsemen and organizations that contacted their Representatives in support of RTP.”

 

“Strong support from Congressional champions of the program, particularly Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Risch (R-ID), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), as well as Representatives  Hanna (R-NY),  Rick Larsen (D-WA), Tim Walz (D-MN) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), was also essential to preserving the program,” continued  Pendergrass.

 

Since its inception RTP has provided money for thousands of state and local trail projects across the country, including many that benefit equestrians.  RTP provides funding directly to the states for recreational trails and trail-related facilities for all recreational trail users.   It is funded with a portion of the gas taxes paid into the Highway Trust Fund by recreational off-highway vehicle users.

 

To learn more about the program and find information about contacting your state RTP administrator for guidance on State policies and project eligibility requirements visit https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/.  You can also look up the projects funded in your state in the RTP project database.

 

The AHC has advocated for the RTP program since its inception and is an active member in the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT).  CRT is federation of national and regional trail-related organizations formed exclusively to build awareness about and protect the RTP program.

 

“It is a victory for all recreational users that RTP has been reauthorized. However, Governors still have the option to opt out of the program. This year only one state has done this (Connecticut) so it is important that recreational riders stay vigilant against any attempts to eliminate the program in their state,” said Pendergrass. “Additionally, if you have a trail project in your area you would like to see receive funding the AHC encourages you to visit the RTP website and contact your state RTP administrator.

[post_title] => Recreational Trails Program Reauthorized [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => recreational-trails-program-reauthorized [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-12-08 12:31:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-12-08 17:31:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.horsecouncil.org/?post_type=press-release&p=740 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => press-release [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 733 [post_author] => 2824 [post_date] => 2015-12-07 02:05:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-12-07 07:05:04 [post_content] => The National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association is the latest organization to endorse the American Horse Council’s (AHC) Welfare Code of Practice.

The AHC Welfare Code of Practice is a broad set of principles designed to establish good welfare procedures for organizations to follow to “Put the Horse First.” The code outlines in broad strokes what principles organizations are committed to in breeding, training, competing, transporting, enjoying, and caring for their horses. The code encourages everyone to consider the health, safety, and welfare of their horses in all aspects of their activities, including the social and ethical issues.

“The National HBPA along with its supportive affiliates and members strongly support the Welfare Code of Practice established by the American Horse Council. The embodiment of the Code to ‘Put the Horse First’ rings true with our membership and supports our mission statement. Being a part of the Welfare Code should be an indication to everyone looking at the equine industry as a whole, that our goal is to uphold the health and welfare of the horse,” said Eric J. Hamelback CEO of the National HBPA.

The AHC’s code is not intended to supersede an organization’s rules or regulations. Any organization’s more specific rules still govern activities sanctioned and regulated by the organization. Rather the code is a compliment to any such rules and restates the principles to be followed by breed registries, trade associations, various disciplines and the horse community as a whole in pursuing their equine activities.

To review the AHC Welfare Code of Practice, a list of the 52 organizations supporting the code, and a FAQs page, please visit the AHC Website at ahcbeta.flywheelsites.com. [post_title] => National HBPA Supports AHC Welfare Code [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => national-hbpa-supports-ahc-welfare-code [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-12-07 02:05:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-12-07 07:05:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.horsecouncil.org/?post_type=press-release&p=733 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => press-release [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 732 [post_author] => 2824 [post_date] => 2015-12-07 02:02:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-12-07 07:02:41 [post_content] => December 3, 2015 Today, the House of Representatives passed the final version of a multi-year national highway bill known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or the FAST Act. The Senate is expected to pass the bill Friday and the President has said he will sign it. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program (RTP) for the next five years and provides $85 million annually for the program. The bill has been working its way through Congress for most of this year. During the Congressional process several attempts were made to eliminate the RTP Program from the bill. These attempts were defeated because of strong support from Congressional champions of the program and grassroots support from recreational trail users, including many equestrians. Grassroots support played a very important role in making sure RTP was included in the final bill. The AHC appreciates all the individual horsemen and organizations that contacted their Members of Congress in support of RTP. Since its inception RTP has provided money for thousands of state and local trail projects across the country, including many that benefit equestrians. RTP provides funding directly to the states for recreational trails and trail-related facilities for all recreational trail users.   It is funded with a portion of the gas taxes paid into the Highway Trust Fund by recreational off-highway vehicle users. It is a victory for all recreational trail users that RTP was reauthorized and will be available to fund trail projects around the country for the next 5 years. If you have any questions, please contact the AHC. [post_title] => Highway Bill Nears Final Passage, Recreational Trails Program Included [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => highway-bill-nears-final-passage-recreational-trails-program-included [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-12-07 02:02:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-12-07 07:02:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.horsecouncil.org/?post_type=washington-report&p=732 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => washington-report [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 6 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 846 [post_author] => 2810 [post_date] => 2015-12-18 12:00:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-12-18 17:00:55 [post_content] =>

December 18, 2015

Congress has passed a tax extender bill called the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 that includes several provisions important to the horse industry and supported by the American Horse Council.  

At the end of 2014, a number of favorable tax provisions for horse owners, breeders and businesses expired. In all, over sixty tax provisions expired; some applied to all businesses, including the horse industry, and one was specifically applicable to owners of race horses. All of the provisions extended are retroactive for all of 2015.

Importantly, the bill would reinstate 3-year-depreciation for all race horses for two more years. From 2009 through 2014, race horses could be depreciated over three years, regardless of when they were placed in service. This change, which eliminated the 7-year depreciation period for race horses and made all race horses eligible for three-year depreciation, expired at the end of 2014. The just passed extender bill would reinstate 3-year-depreciation for race horses placed in service after December 31, 2014 through 2016.

The bill would also increase the so-called Section 179 business expense deduction back to $500,000 and make this provision permanent. It is currently set at $25,000. This would allow anyone in the horse business to immediately depreciate up to $500,000 of the cost of any investment in business assets, including horses, purchased and placed in service. The deduction would be reduced dollar-for-dollar once investment in all one’s business activities hit $2 million.

The bill would restore bonus depreciation for qualifying new property, including assets used in the horse business, such as horses and other equipment, purchased and placed in service during 2015 through 2019. The bonus depreciation percentage is 50 percent for property placed in service during 2015, 2016 and 2017 and phases down to 40 percent in 2018, and 30 percent in 2019. The first use of the horse or equipment must begin with the taxpayer.

The extender bill would also restore and make permanent favorable tax treatment for land donated for conservation purposes, particularly land donated by farmers and ranchers.

The AHC supported the tax extender bill and originally achieved the 3-year-depreciation of race horses provision in the 2008 Farm Bill and supported its inclusion in subsequent tax extension bills, including this one.

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