MORRISTOWN, N.J. and WASHINGTON, March 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Under the guidance of Financial Executives International's (FEI's) nine Advocacy and Accounting Policy Committees, its Government Affairs staff seeks to advance the interests of FEI's members with Congress, the Obama administration and key industry regulators. FEI has identified the following 13 issues as key areas in which it will focus its advocacy resources this year. FEI believes development and advancement of these issues will move its members' agenda forward, while securing a better economic future for the country.
A PDF version of FEI's Top 13 Advocacy Issues for 2013 can be downloaded here.
- Assure comprehensive business tax reform while continuing to protect privately held and family-owned businesses. While the tax-writing committees in the United States Congress continue to pursue comprehensive tax reform, private companies face increasing uncertainty in the process. If individual rates are not lowered or if an exception is not made for business income, private companies will be at a significant disadvantage should the corporate rate alone be lowered. It is important that there be parity in the rates of both public and private companies in order to guarantee continued competitiveness in the global marketplace.
- Enact corporate tax reform that lowers the statutory corporate income tax rate, adopts a competitive territorial tax system and does not discriminate against any particular industry or type of income. The U.S. has the highest statutory corporate income tax rate among its major trading partners. High corporate tax rates act as a disincentive for both domestic capital investment and inbound foreign direct investment. High U.S. corporate income tax rates applied to the worldwide profits of U.S. multinationals place those companies at a tax disadvantage compared to businesses based in countries that have both a lower corporate tax rate and a tax exemption for repatriated foreign earnings. A goal of tax reform should be to produce a tax code that is neutral among industries and types of income, does not pick winners and losers and provides for consistent treatment of taxpayers engaged in the same or similar activities. Revenue offsets should only be debated in the context of tax reform.
- Preserve the tax treatment of employer-provided retirement plans. Employers voluntarily establish and promote retirement plans to help their workers save for a secure retirement. Reducing or eliminating the current tax treatment of these plans during the current tax reform or deficit reduction debate will harm the retirement security of millions of American workers.
- Preserve the tax deductibility of employer-provided health coverage. As lawmakers in Washington seek to reform the tax code and reduce the deficit, it is important that the exclusion for employer-provided health coverage not be reduced or eliminated, particularly at a time when companies are facing costs and penalties as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
- Reenact the tax extender provisions that expire at the end of 2013. These tax provisions benefit a wide range of taxpayers and are important to U.S. jobs and the broader economy. Important tax extenders for the business community include 50 percent bonus depreciation, subpart F exemption for active financing, CFC look‐through and the research and development credit.
- Strengthen and make permanent the research and development credit. The R&D credit has expired 15 times since it was enacted in 1981, most recently for the whole of 2012 until renewed through 2013 on Jan. 2, 2013. In addition to this uncertainty, other countries are moving ahead of the U.S. by offering stronger innovation tax incentives to attract R&D. In 2009, the U.S. ranked 24th out of 38 industrialized countries in the strength of its R&D tax incentives. Increasing the rate of the "alternative simplified credit" to 20 percent and making it permanent would create a powerful incentive for research jobs to be located in the U.S. and advance U.S. leadership in the competition for global R&D investment dollars.
- Oppose further PBGC premium increases. In 2012, Congress passed legislation that includes a $9 billion increase in Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premiums, which are paid by employers that sponsor defined benefit pension plans. Despite this significant increase, which will cost companies millions of dollars annually, the PBGC continues to advocate for the power to set and raise its own premiums to cover its reported $34 billion deficit. Instead of increasing this tax on businesses, lawmakers should be focused on efforts to keep these employers in the defined benefit retirement system in order to strengthen the PBGC.
Financial Reform and Reporting Issues
- Enact legislation exempting end users from margin requirements. Congress must codify legislative intent of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to exempt commercial end users that utilize derivatives to hedge and mitigate business risk from margin requirements. Without a clear exemption, nonfinancial companies would have to divert billions of dollars away from much-needed investments, such as business expansion and job creation.
- Avoid regulatory overreach in money market fund (MMF) reforms. Regulators are considering additional reforms to MMFs, beyond those enacted after the financial crisis. Since MMFs are critical tools for American businesses for short-term financing and investing, it is vital that these reforms do not compromise their usefulness.
- Monitor Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) requirements regarding the inspection process and its potential impact on audit fees and FEI members.
Government Reform Issues
- Avoid arbitrarily capping government contractor employee compensation at a rate that leaves the defense industry unable to compete for talent and capital FEI urges Congress to not resurrect a provision contained in the Senate version of the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that arbitrarily capped all contractor employees' allowable total compensation at $230,700, or the amount of the U.S. vice president's salary. Though this provision was deleted from the final bill, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study to determine the impact of reducing compensation reimbursements on the industry and the Defense Department was included, setting the stage for reinstatement of the compensation cap provision in the FY2014 NDAA.
- Monitor the implementation of the "Executive Order. Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity" and any proposed cybersecurity legislation to determine the effects on industry and the economy. Review the executive order's information sharing requirements and other new regulations, as well as the National Institute of Standards and Technology's development of a framework of cybersecurity practices to assess the likely impact of the executive order on business cybersecurity capabilities and costs. Evaluate various follow-on legislative proposals to optimize public-private cooperation in maximizing national cybersecurity cooperation and effectiveness.
- Protect contractor intellectual property and proprietary business and technical data. Under evolving law and regulation, government contractors are facing the unenviable choice of either not recovering the R&D costs of products sold to the federal government or granting the government unlimited rights to the underlying technologies, thereby losing any competitive advantage gained from that R&D. FEI encourages the federal government to return to practices that support innovation and competition.
Financial Executives International is the leading advocate for the views of corporate financial management. Its 15,000 members hold policy-making positions as chief financial officers, treasurers and controllers at companies from every major industry. FEI enhances member professional development through peer networking, career management services, conferences, teleconferences and publications. Members participate in the activities of 86 chapters, 74 in the U.S., 11 in Canada and 1 in Japan. FEI is headquartered in Morristown, NJ, with additional offices in Washington, D.C. and Toronto. Visit www.financialexecutives.org for more information.
SOURCE Financial Executives International