Movie Producers and Racetracks Get Special Tax Breaks in $858-Billion Obama-GOP Deal

By Matt Cover | December 10, 2010 | 2:30 PM EST

Talladega Superspeedway in April 2008. (Photo: Curtis Palmer/Wikipedia Commons)

( – Provisions buried in the $858-billion tax-rate and unemployment-benefits extension bill that President Barack Obama negotiated with Republican congressional leaders extends special targeted tax breaks for racetracks and television and movie producers.

The tax break for "motorsports entertainment complexes" is found in Section 738 on page 59 of the 74-page bill. The tax break for "certain film and television productions" is found in Section 744 on page 61 of the 74 page bill.

The deal, which is scheduled to go to the Senate floor on Monday, is centered on extending the current income tax rates--otherwise set to rise on Jan. 1, 2011--for two more years and extending unemployment benefits for 13 more months. The deal also imposes a 35 percent tax on estates of $5 million or more. This year there is no federal estate tax at all. Next year, unless new legislation is passed, the estate tax will snap back to 55 percent on estates worth $1 million or more.

The special targeted tax break for racetracks was initially enacted in 2004. It allows racetrack owners to use a seven-year depreciation schedule for improvements to track facilities such as grandstands, parking lots, and the tracks themselves, allowing the owners to write-off the investment faster than other businesses.

The special targeted tax break for television and film producers allows these producers to expense $15 million of their production costs if they are incurred in the United States. If the costs are incurred in an economically depressed area, companies can write off $20 million.

This special break for TV and movie makers was previously inserted in the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program, the $700 billion program for bailing out banks.