July 1, 2017
Clark Rector, Jr., Executive Vice President of Government Affairs
On July 27, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, released a joint statement on tax reform.
The statement was short on specifics, but pledged “a lower tax rate for small businesses so they can compete with larger ones, and lower rates for all American businesses so they can compete with foreign ones.”
According to prior reports, Senate talks on tax reform have been centered on a framework similar to the plan introduced in 2014 by former Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp, R-Mich. That plan called for lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent while eliminating many tax preferences and deductions, including limiting the federal deduction for advertising expenses to 50% in the current year with the remaining 50% amortized over ten years. A similar plan was introduced at the same time in the Senate by then Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., although the amortization schedule in the Senate plan was for five years. There has been no indication that the advertising deduction is currently under consideration.
There had been speculation that Congressional leaders would take the same approach with tax reform as was used with health care, i.e. writing the bill behind closed doors and presenting the finished package to lawmakers for a yes or no vote. However, the statement said their expectation was that the bills would be considered under regular order, first in the tax writing committees and then by the full House and Senate.
The Senate Finance Committee has unanimously approved David Kautter, President Trump’s nominee for assistant secretary of the Treasury for tax policy. The nomination has been forwarded to the full Senate. If confirmed to the position, which oversees tax matters for the Treasury Department, Kautter is likely to play an important role in the administration’s efforts to overhaul the tax code.
Kautter is the partner in charge of the Washington national tax practice of RSM, a tax and consulting services firm. He also worked at Ernst & Young for more than 30 years and was a Capitol Hill staffer for former Sen. John Danforth, R-Missouri.
Local AAF members have attended many grassroots meetings between advertising industry constituents and members of the Congressional tax writing committees held in their home districts to stress the importance of maintaining advertising’s status as a normal and necessary business expense full deductible in the current year.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Oregon has announced a September 7 Committee hearing on Ground Rules for the Internet Ecosystem. Invitations to testify have been sent to the CEOs of leading tech companies, including Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon, and Netflix and broadband providers including Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Charter Communications.
Unfortunately, the bill would also expand the category of “sensitive information” far beyond what the FTC has ever recognized, including browsing history and require opt-in consent for all use, disclosure and access to such data. This would likely chill innovation and frustrate Internet users, as it could result in consumers facing a bombardment of disruptive opt-in notices.
The AAF believes that the FTC’s privacy enforcement, coupled with strong industry self-regulation through the Digital Advertising Alliance, has worked well to protect consumers. The FTC requires consumers to opt-in before companies can collect sensitive data (such as financial or medical data) but allows for an opt-out regime for non-sensitive data. The DAA’s self-regulatory approach aligns with the FTC’s approach to non-sensitive data and provides a flexible, innovative, and independently enforceable framework that keeps pace with the marketplace.
State actions on privacy have slowed somewhat since most state legislatures have adjourned for the year. AAF and our industry partners have sent letters expressing concern about privacy bills in California and Massachusetts.
The House draft legislation making appropriations for financial services and general government includes language to permanently defund the Interagency Working Group and its proposed nutrition principles for foods marketed to children. The Federal Trade Commission, the lead agency in the IWG, abandoned the effort to enforce the principles many years ago. Previous appropriations have denied funding on a year by year basis. If it passes, the new language would make the denial permanent.
The United Kingdom recently adopted stricter advertising guidelines for high in fat, salt, and sugar (HFSS) products marketed to children.
The restrictions are already in place on TV, and will now apply to children’s non-broadcast media including print, posters, cinema, online, advergames, and in social media. Ads for HFFS products will no longer be allowed to appear around TV-like content online, such as video-sharing platforms such as YouTube, if it is directed at children.
In summary, the rules state:
- Ads that directly or indirectly promote an HFSS product cannot appear in children’s media.
- Ads for HFSS products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience.
- If the content targets children under 12, ads for HFSS products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters, and celebrities popular with children; advertisers may now use those techniques to better promote healthier options.
- The Department of Health nutrient profiling model will be used to classify which products are HFSS.
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