Weigh in with the THA on horse racing’s D.C. agenda

Posted: Dec. 3, 2016

National Thoroughbred Racing Association President Alex Waldrop on Dec. 2 circulated the following memorandum to the NTRA Board of Directors on the organization’s legislative agenda for the upcoming 115th Congress.

The Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has a seat on the NTRA board as well as its own lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and also is seeking input on the federal agenda for the upcoming Congress.

Waldrop’s memo is as follows:

In January, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States and the 115th Congress will convene. The Republican Party will control the White House and both Houses of Congress, which has not happened since the Democrats did so in 2009.

While the legislative agenda of the Trump administration is not fully known yet, any time there is a new chief executive in the White House, there are both potential threats and new opportunities for highly regulated businesses like the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry to consider.

As we do at the beginning of each new Congress, the NTRA legislative team will soon be convening a white board strategy session with our lobbyists on Capitol Hill to consider updating our federal legislative agenda. The purpose is to think through new issues and new strategies that merit consideration given the changes the elections have wrought.

One consequence of the elections is that for the first time in several years, Congress is seriously discussing comprehensive tax reform, perhaps as soon as 2017. Tax reform is one area that presents us with new opportunities for positive change. Similarly, the Trump administration has indicated a strong interest in de-regulation, which may also offer new prospects for change.

As part of this planning process, we are seeking input from a number of industry stakeholders and we want to include NTRA Board members in the process. To guide you and your respective organizations in your thinking, please consider and respond to the following questions.

  • What federal legislative and regulatory issues are important to you and your business? Where would you like for the NTRA legislative team to direct its resources?
  • Are there current federal tax rules or policies that need to be addressed legislatively or from a regulatory perspective?
  • Renewing or better yet, making permanent the uniform 3-year depreciation of racehorses will continue to a priority for the NTRA legislative team. In your experience, is this provision still important to owners and breeders.
  • In past years, we have unsuccessfully pursued a reduction in the capital gains holding period for racehorses from 24 months to 12 months. Is this provision still important to owners and breeders?
  • The Section 179 expense allowance is now permanent at $500,000 with a $2 million investment threshold and bonus depreciation will be at 50% through 2017, 40% in 2018 and 30% in 2019. Are there other tax incentive programs or possibilities that you would like to see implemented at the federal level?
  • Modernization of income tax rules governing withholding and reporting on winning pari-mutuel wagers will continue to be a priority for the NTRA and our bettors. Are there other taxation issues related to wagering that we should be pursuing?
  • Reformation of the H-2B visa program for seasonal workers like grooms and hotwalkers is a key issue for trainers and owners. What other immigration issues are important to you and your business? Are there legislative or regulatory changes we need to pursue?

What other legislative and regulatory changes will help drive the economics of the racing and breeding industry forward from your point of view?

Your involvement in this process is important to us, and we appreciate your taking the time to share your views. You can do so by emailing your comments to alan@tharacing.com or tom@tharacing.com by Dec. 19.