American Horse Council Touts 2015 Accomplishments

Several bills that help racehorse owners were passed in the U.S. Congress last year.

American Horse Council

The American Horse Council in 2015 worked to pass several bills beneficial to racehorse owners and trainers.

The 114th Congress ended last year with a burst of productivity by passing several major pieces of legislation including a tax extender bill, an omnibus appropriations bill, and a five year highway bill. All of these bills include provisions favorable to the horse industry that have been priorities for the American Horse Council.

In addition, other bills championed by the AHC have seen Congressional action and could be passed with enough industry support in the second session of this Congress, which adjourns in December.

“The AHC works on a diverse set of issues that impact the horse industry, often over the course of several years; for this reason it's not every day that we see several AHC priorities pass Congress in the span of a month,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “These three bills included tax provisions, guest worker reforms, and trail programs that will benefit the racing, showing, and recreational segments of the industry.”

The Tax Extender bill, called the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, reinstates three-year-depreciation for all race horses for two more years. It also increases the Section 179 business expense deduction back to $500,000 and makes this provision permanent. The bill restores 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 bill also restores and makes permanent favorable tax treatment for land donated for conservation purposes, particularly land donated by farmers and ranchers, like horse owners and breeders.

“These provisions benefit racing and everyone who is in the horse business,” said Hickey. “Importantly, horse businesses, breeders, and farms can now make long term plans to take advantage of these tax provisions instead of just hoping Congress will extend them for one year, as has been the case recently.”

The omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the government until September 30, 2016, also includes important H-2B temporary worker changes. The bill rolls back parts of a burdensome new H-2B rule and will make it easier for horse industry employers to use the program when no American workers can be found.

“Horse industry employers -- mainly horse trainers and owners who cannot find American workers to fill semi-skilled jobs at racetracks and horse shows -- often have to turn to this program for workers,” said AHC vice president of government affairs Ben Pendergrass. “They do this because they have no choice and this program has gotten progressively more expensive and harder to use.

“Most H-2B workers in the industry are directly responsible for the care of the horses upon which the entire horse industry is dependent and without them thousands of American horse industry jobs could be lost,” he added. “We have been working on fixing the shortcomings of the H-2B program for years, both through the regulatory process, standalone legislation, and the appropriations process with a coalition of other users of the program. There is still work that needs to be done, but this bill will improve the program.”

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