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USA: New on the hill: ad tax deduction proposal released, ban on e-cigarette marketing to minors

27 March 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP
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Author: Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP

Advertisers should be aware that two new pieces of legislation are under consideration in Washington, D.C.

First, the long-dreaded tax proposal that would reduce the advertising tax deduction has finally been released, much to the dismay of the industry. In his 1,000-page tax reform package, Rep. David Camp (R-Mich.) stuck with his earlier idea to cap the expensing of ad costs to 50 percent the first year, with the remaining 50 percent amortized over a 10-year period.

But in an apparent attempt to placate the industry, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said he would consider adding an exemption for the first $1 million in advertising expenses if the total advertising budget does not exceed $2 million.

His concession was not met with enthusiasm.

"That’s almost meaningless,” Dick O’Brien, a lobbyist for the American Association of Advertising Agencies told Ad Age, calling the proposal "a dreadful idea.” "What he’s doing will make advertising more expensive,” O’Brien told the publication. "Most big businesses spend tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising each year.”

In a statement, the Interactive Advertising Bureau agreed. "In a U.S. economy still struggling to grow, the last thing to consider is a change in the tax deductibility of advertising expenditures,” Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the IAB, said. "Advertising is the engine of consumer demand; it brings people into showrooms and stores, and generates the economic activity that creates new jobs.”

Clark Rector, executive vice president of government affairs for the American Advertising Federation, told Ad Week it was "crazy” to keep the change to the ad tax deduction – the first in more than a century. "It’s a sledge hammer to business, a disincentive to advertise, and counterproductive to stimulating the economy.”

In other legislative news, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced the Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act of 2014, which would empower the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit electronic cigarette companies from targeting children under 18 years of age.

The bill states that e-cigarette companies are currently marketing to youth by using cartoons and sponsoring events such as concerts. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of middle and high school students who have used electronic cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012.

"We cannot risk undoing decades of progress in reducing youth smoking by allowing e-cigarette makers to target our kids,” Sen. Boxer said in a statement. "This bill will help protect our children from an industry that profits from addiction.”

Pursuant to the bill, the FTC would prohibit "the advertising, promoting, and marketing in commerce” of e-cigarettes to children as an unfair or deceptive act or practice. The agency would also have enforcement powers, as would state attorneys general.

To read Rep. Camp’s proposal, click here.

To read Sen. Boxer’s bill, click here.

Why it matters: Although Rep. Camp’s proposal has drawn the ire of the ad industry, its chances of success this year are slim. However, he told Ad Age that lawmakers must discuss the updating of the tax code. "We need to have this debate,” he said. No matter when the debate occurs, industry will be ready. "We’ll be out in force,” Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, told Ad Week. "We’re not against tax reform, but this provision would make the effort to sell more expensive.”

This article first appeared on lexology.com.


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