Tax

Policy and Legal

NAM Fights SEC Buybacks Rule

Yesterday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission finalized a rule that requires new disclosures from companies conducting stock buybacks.

The background: Stock buybacks are a commonplace practice that allow companies to ensure that their cash reserves are being used effectively. Returning capital to shareholders benefits both the company and its investors by increasing shareholder returns, enhancing capital formation and ensuring efficient capital allocation.

  • Over the past few years, however, policymakers and regulators have taken steps to discourage buybacks, and the SEC has now finalized a rule targeting them.

The burden: The SEC’s rule imposes several new burdens on manufacturers conducting buybacks:

  • A requirement that companies disclose detailed buyback data from each day of a fiscal quarter—imposing significant costs and dramatically increasing the complexity of businesses’ quarterly filings
  • A requirement that companies provide disclosures justifying their buybacks, which could further politicize these capital allocation decisions
  • New disclosures related to companies’ stock buyback programs and transactions by company management and boards of directors

The pushback: The NAM spoke out against the SEC’s rule when it was proposed last year, detailing the harm it would do to manufacturers.

  • In particular, the NAM called on the SEC to reverse its proposed next-day disclosure requirement, which would have mandated upward of 250 new SEC filings per year for many public companies.

The result: Thanks to the NAM’s advocacy, the SEC’s final rule left out the daily disclosure requirement—a significant victory for manufacturers.

  • However, companies will still be required to track daily buyback activity to comply with the quarterly day-by-day reporting mandate.
  • In addition, the final rule maintained the proposal’s burdensome requirement that companies describe the “objectives or rationales” for any stock buybacks as well as the “process or criteria” used to set buyback targets.

The next steps: Most domestic companies will be required to provide daily buyback data in their Q4 2023 filings, meaning that daily tracking will begin in October 2023 and be reported to the SEC in early 2024. Most foreign companies will be required to comply in their Q2 2024 filings.

The last word: “The NAM is disappointed that the SEC has chosen to unjustifiably punish manufacturers for returning capital to their shareholders,” said NAM Managing Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram. “Manufacturers, investors, retirement plans and the entire economy benefit when companies can efficiently allocate capital via share repurchases.”

Further reading: The SEC rule is not the only action targeting buybacks in the past few years. The Inflation Reduction Act included a new tax on buybacks—which the NAM also opposed. It is currently engaging with the IRS to minimize the harm done to manufacturers by the tax. Read more here.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Call SEC Buybacks Rule a “Departure from Its Mission to Enhance Capital Formation and Protect Investors”

Washington, D.C. – Following the Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision to finalize its costly and unnecessary stock buybacks rule, National Association of Manufacturers Managing Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram released the following statement:

“The NAM is disappointed that the SEC has chosen to unjustifiably punish manufacturers for returning capital to their shareholders. Manufacturers, investors, retirement plans and the entire economy benefit when companies can efficiently allocate capital via share repurchases. The NAM was successful in convincing the SEC to abandon the most damaging aspect of its initial proposal, but the commission’s attempt to discourage these commonplace, commonsense transactions via an overly complicated, expensive and unworkable disclosure mandate is nevertheless a departure from its mission to enhance capital formation and protect investors.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.81 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 55% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Policy and Legal

Tax Change Throws a Wrench in Westminster Tool’s Operations

As a family-owned small business that works with giant, complex industries like aerospace and medical devices, Westminster Tool knows its ability to innovate is what sets it apart. The 25-year-old company makes complex injection mold systems, composite tooling and components—including devices used in medical transplants and high-performance plastic parts for military aircraft.

  • “We’re constantly looking to improve ourselves,” said Westminster Tool Chief Financial Officer Colby Coombs. “We’re always looking to push technological advancements, bring products to market faster, improve quality and reduce cost.”

So when a harmful R&D tax change went into effect, it caused real problems for the Connecticut-based company.

The change: Until recently, businesses could deduct 100% of their R&D expenses in the same year they incurred the expenses. But since last year, the tax code has required businesses to spread their R&D deductions out over a period of five years, making it much more expensive upfront to invest in the kind of innovation at which Westminster Tool excels.

The impact: As a result of the policy shift, Westminster Tool has found itself paying significantly more in taxes—and having to scale back its ambitions.

  • “The impact has been large,” said Coombs. “Because of this change, I had to reconsider a contract that was going to mean new jobs and diversification just based on the cash flow that I needed in order to pay the government.”
  • “Ultimately, this law may prohibit me from hiring more people, training more people in new skills, investing in our community and bringing in new work stateside.”

The uncertainty: As a result of uncertainty, small businesses are being forced to hold off on investments they can no longer afford.

  • “I am at the mercy of this law, waiting to see how it plays out before I can make any large-scale investment in our business,” said Coombs. “It is putting massive pressure on our ability to grow and be an employer of choice in our community.”

The urgency: Coombs also emphasized the international nature of the challenge. With so many global competitors—especially those based in China, which provides a super deduction for manufacturers—an inability to invest in R&D will hurt manufacturing in the U.S.

  • “If Congress doesn’t do the right thing this year, this is going to be a job growth prohibitor or a job killer,” said Coombs. “We are trying to compete with international competitors that aren’t hamstrung by this problem. If Congress fails to fix this issue, it will drastically impact my ability to compete with the global powers in our industry.”

The small business effect: Coombs notes that small businesses in particular will be harmed by this change, since they don’t have the cash reserves to take on significant new expenses.

  • “Small companies don’t have the balance sheets to handle this,” said Coombs. “We are doing the best we can to survive, to represent our state, to make advancements and offer the best job opportunities we can. This law is prohibiting me from doing what we’re striving to do.”

The last word: “Failure by Washington to reverse this change will put companies underwater and out of business,” said Coombs.

You can find more information and ways to take action at the NAM’s R&D Action Center.

Press Releases

NAM Applauds Congressional Focus on Key Manufacturing Tax Provisions

New Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Address Interest Deductibility Introduced Today

Washington, D.C. – Following the American Investment in Manufacturing (AIM) Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would reinstate the Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) measure for U.S. businesses, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“America’s leadership in the world and our ability to defend American values depend on a strong and thriving manufacturing industry. The AIM Act will strengthen our ability to make critical investments in machinery and equipment while protecting more than 450,000 American jobs,” said Timmons. “We thank the bipartisan group of House and Senate members who understand that a competitive tax environment is a key driver to ensure that we can continue to grow and invest in manufacturing in America at this critical time.”

Over the past month, both chambers of Congress introduced legislation to 1) restore the immediate deductibility of research and development costs; 2) reverse the new, stricter limit on interest deductibility; and 3) revise the tax code to restore businesses’ ability to take 100% deductions for equipment and machinery purchases in the tax year of purchase.

“While the U.S. tax code is making it harder for manufacturers to grow, other countries are encouraging industrial investment. For example, China is giving manufacturing companies there a 200% deduction for R&D, while the U.S. only offers a fraction of that. The legislation that’s been introduced can help us turn the tables and make it easier for America to out-innovate China,” Timmons added. “So we’re asking Congress and the Biden administration to make passage of these bills a priority so we can build on the successes that we had following tax reform in 2017, when manufacturers were able to keep their promises and invest in their companies and communities across the board.”

Background:

Research and development: On Jan. 1, 2022, a harmful tax change went into effect that makes R&D more expensive in the United States by requiring businesses to deduct their R&D expenses over a period of years.

Read more about the NAM’s work on this provision here.

Interest deductibility: When manufacturers borrow funds to buy capital equipment, the interest they pay on those loans is tax deductible up to a certain limit. But a recent change in the tax law modified how that limit is calculated—shrinking the deduction for companies that invest in long-lived depreciable assets, making debt financing more expensive and  the U.S. an outlier among advanced economies and leaving less capital for job creation and investment.

Read more about the NAM’s work on this provision here.

Full expensing: Under the 2017 tax law, manufacturers were able to deduct 100% of their investments in assets with long, useful lives, supporting their ability to acquire vital equipment and strengthening their competitiveness. However, the ability to deduct 100% of these costs began to phase down at the beginning of 2023 and is set to expire completely in 2027.

See how full expensing has benefited small manufacturers in the United States here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.90 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 55% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

New Survey: Manufacturers Want Increased Trade with Europe

New Regulations and Taxes Will Hurt Expansion

London, U.K. – As the National Association of Manufacturers’ Competing to Win Tour begins its second week of bolstering strategic alliances across Europe, the association released findings from its Q1 2023 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey. The survey found that expanding trading opportunities with Europe is a top priority for manufacturers, with more than 77% of respondents supporting negotiating new agreements with European nations.

“At a time when democracy and free enterprise are under attack from forces around the world, America can provide the leadership needed to defend our values, our institutions and our way of life,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “By advancing an ambitious trade agreement agenda, we can ensure that the U.S.—and not competitors like China—writes the rules for the global economy and trading system. That has been the focus of our conversations with government, association and business leaders across Europe over the past week.”

The survey also continues to illustrate the need for Washington to enact policies that support the sector’s competitiveness as businesses face record job openings and increased production and input costs.

“With geopolitical turmoil and a banking crisis injecting further uncertainty into the economy, policymakers must act with urgency on key tax, trade, permitting and regulatory proposals if they want to help manufacturers in America fend off a recession,” said Timmons.

Background: Manufacturers have called on Congress and the White House to address key tax, trade, and permitting policies in recent months and have pressed lawmakers to work across the aisle to move legislation. The NAM conducted the survey from Feb. 21 to March 7, 2023.

Key Findings:

  • Of companies that are engaged in international trade, nearly two-thirds of manufacturers said that Europe was either a somewhat or very important market for their company. With that in mind, 77.7% would support U.S. efforts to launch market-opening trade agreement negotiations with countries in Europe.
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents (74.9%) listed attracting and retaining a quality workforce as a primary business challenge, with increased raw material prices (60.1%) and supply chain challenges (55.8%) the next biggest impediments.
  • More than 90% of respondents said that higher tax burdens on manufacturing income would make it difficult for their companies to expand their workforce, invest in new equipment or expand their facilities. Similarly, 93.9% suggest that increased regulatory burdens would weaken their ability to invest in their workers, equipment or facilities.
  • More than 74% of respondents said that permitting reform—which would simplify and speed up the approval process for new projects—would be helpful to their manufacturing company, allowing them to hire more workers, expand their business or increase wages and benefits.
  • More than 55% of respondents said that new proposed air standards from the Environmental Protection Agency would raise their costs of compliance, with roughly one-third suggesting that it would lead to increased permitting challenges and lessen investment and facility expansion plans.

Conducted by NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray, the Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey has surveyed the association’s membership of 14,000 manufacturers of all sizes on a quarterly basis for the past 25 years to gain insight into their economic outlook, hiring and investment decisions and business concerns.

The NAM releases these results to the public each quarter. Further information on the survey is available here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.81 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 55% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

Sens. Hassan and Young Reintroduce Crucial R&D Legislation

American Innovation and Jobs Act will ensure that the tax code supports the ability of manufacturers to out-compete China and create well-paying jobs

Washington, D.C. – Following the introduction of the American Innovation and Jobs Act by Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Todd Young (R-IN), National Association of Manufacturers Managing Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram released the following statement:

“Manufacturers are hiring workers, investing in communities across the United States and creating the products, materials and processes that drive America forward. Manufacturers applaud the introduction of the bipartisan American Innovation and Jobs Act, which restores full deductions for research, helping the American industry out-compete China, which provides a 200% super deduction for manufacturers’ research—20 times the amount in the U.S. tax code,” said Netram. “Manufacturers, the vast majority of which are quite small, perform 55% of private-sector research and development. These investments in innovation spur economic growth and support the creation of high-paying jobs across the country. Congress should approve the American Innovation and Jobs Act quickly to support critical research that allows manufacturers to improve lives in America and for people around the world.”

Background: As of 2022, manufacturers can no longer immediately deduct their R&D expenses in the year in which they are incurred. Instead, manufacturers must deduct or amortize their expenses over a number of years, which makes R&D much more expensive to undertake. The American Innovation and Jobs Act would restore the immediate deductibility of R&D expenses, a policy that was in place for nearly 70 years. In the 117th Congress, the American Innovation and Jobs Act garnered 35 cosponsors: 17 Democrats and 18 Republicans. A recent analysis released by the NAM finds that the industry would lose 59,392 jobs and face a decline in output of $31.69 billion this year if Congress does not act.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.81 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 55% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

Timmons: We Have to Get Serious About Competing with China; The President’s Budget Does the Opposite

Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement on President Biden’s fiscal 2024 budget plan:

“There is no escaping the fact that the tax increases in President Biden’s new budget proposal would reverse the recent significant growth we’ve achieved in American manufacturing jobs and investment.

“After the 2017 tax reform made rates more competitive, manufacturers kept their promises to raise wages and invest in their communities. In fact, 2018 was the best year for manufacturing job creation in the previous 21 years. And in the past two years, as we rebuilt from the pandemic, we’ve created more jobs in the sector than at any point since the Reagan administration. So it comes as a surprise that President Biden, who has vocally championed manufacturing growth in pushing successfully for infrastructure investment and the CHIPS and Science Act, wants to pursue policies that would undo our progress.

“We have to get serious about competing with China; the president’s budget does the opposite. This proposal further undermines manufacturing in America by failing to reverse tax policies that make it more difficult for our industry to perform research, while China currently employs a 200% super deduction on R&D for manufacturing. It’s also now more expensive to buy critical machinery and finance new investments. If these lapsed deductions aren’t reinstated, it will mean lost jobs, less innovation and fewer opportunities for our communities.

“As manufacturers work to lead our economy forward, we also remain committed to lowering health care costs through market-based solutions that deliver choice and flexibility. Unfortunately, this administration’s insistence on imposing drug pricing requirements is an abdication of free market principles that poses serious risks to the development of new treatments and therapies—the very type of innovation that saves lives in America and around the world.

“Manufacturers are committed to growing investment, jobs and wages here in America. We need our government leaders to share that commitment.”

Background: Read more about how these critical tax priorities impact manufacturers across the country here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.81 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 55% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

General

WATCH: 2023 State of Manufacturing Address

Presented by Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, the 2023 State of Manufacturing Address was given from Husco International in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Special remarks were given by Kurt Bauer, President and CEO, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. Special thanks to Husco President and CEO Austin Ramirez and his team for hosting this year’s address.

Read the official remarks here.

We’re hitting the road. This year’s NAM State of Manufacturing Address officially kicked off the 2023 leg of the NAM’s Competing to Win Tour. The tour will continue to spotlight the industry’s rapid transformation, while also focusing on manufacturing’s well-paying careers, diverse workforce and real-world solutions for the industry’s continued growth.

Upcoming stops: Waukesha and Pewaukee, Wisconsin (Tue, Feb 21); Fishers, Indiana (Wed, Feb 22); Harahan and Avery Island, Louisiana (Thurs, Feb 23)

VISIT THE COMPETING TO WIN AGENDA

Policy and Legal

Ultragenyx Fights for Cures Amid Rising R&D Costs

About 30 million people in the United States have a rare disease, according to the National Institutes of Health, which equates to about one in every 10 individuals. Approximately 95% of these rare diseases have no treatment at all—and Ultragenyx, a biopharmaceutical company focused on new and effective therapies for patients with rare and ultra-rare diseases, is working to change that.

  • “In the aggregate, rare is not that rare,” said Ultragenyx Executive Director of Public Policy and Public Affairs Lisa Kahlman. “Half of those 30 million people are children. It’s a huge unmet medical need.”

Founded in 2010, Ultragenyx has four commercial products, with about 20 more in pre-clinical and clinical development. But a new change in tax policy poses a very real threat to Ultragenyx’s ability to develop as many treatments for rare diseases as possible.

The issue: Until a year ago, businesses could deduct 100% of their R&D expenses in the same year they incurred the expenses. Starting in 2022, however, a tax policy change requires businesses to spread their R&D deductions out over a period of five years, making it more expensive to invest in growth and innovation. For research-heavy companies like Ultragenyx, that change could divert funds intended for the development of therapies toward tax obligations.

  • “Ultragenyx is different,” said Kahlman. “There are a lot of companies that do some work in rare diseases, but usually that’s only a fraction of what they do. We’re exclusively built to focus on rare and ultra-rare diseases, and that requires research.”

The impact: As a small, largely precommercial start-up company that focuses on research, Ultragenyx spends about 70% of its total operating expenses on R&D. In 2021, Ultragenyx spent approximately $497 million on R&D—nearly $150 million more than it earned in revenue.

  • If the tax change stands, the company’s financial statement losses, which approximate decreases in the company’s cash reserves, will be adjusted for tax purposes to reflect significant taxable income, resulting in very large tax liabilities over a short period of years.
  • This will occur during late stages of the company’s development programs just when costs escalate quickly. Altogether, money will be diverted to taxes and away from critical development programs at precisely the wrong time.

The human cost: If Ultragenyx and other research-heavy biotech companies that are focused on developing treatments for rare diseases must divert funds away from development and toward covering tax obligations, patients living with rare diseases will have even more limited options.

The bottom line: “The therapies we’re developing are really transformational, but in some cases, there might be only about 200 patients in the developed world with one of these diseases—so if we don’t have the money for R&D, there won’t be any incentive for anyone else to develop treatments,” said Kahlman. “For these patients, there is no alternative.”

Our move: At the NAM, we’re pushing Congress to reverse this change and allow manufacturers to invest in jobs, communities and innovation. Learn more and take action at www.nam.org/protect-innovation.

Business Operations

How a Manufacturer Uses R&D to Keep Old Jets Flying

What does the U.S. military do when an expensive asset like a plane or a weapons system begins to break down?

Often, it turns to companies like Parts Life, Inc.—an innovative manufacturer that can reverse-engineer obsolete parts and help find solutions for hard-to-replicate products. But after a tax law change went into effect in 2022, the New Jersey–based manufacturer is facing increased costs for research and development, creating a barrier to the kind of innovation that is the focus of its business.

The change: Until the beginning of 2022, businesses could deduct 100% of their R&D expenses in the same year they incurred the expenses. Starting this year, however, a tax law change requires businesses to spread their deductions out over a period of five years, making it more expensive to invest in growth and innovation.

A focus on innovation: For Parts Life, coming up with new ideas is an essential, daily activity.

  • “Parts Life is built around being a solutions provider,” said Parts Life President and CEO Sam Thevanayagam. “We are providing solutions for very expensive and mission-critical assets that are extremely strategic for the defense of the nation, but are also older—so their parts are not necessarily being supported.”
  • “That’s where we come in to do reverse engineering. So, we’re looking at an old problem, but using innovation to solve it going forward.”

A benefit for savings: By helping the military extend the life of its assets, Parts Life also helps taxpayers.

  • “We’re taking care of the warfighter and the taxpayer,” as Thevanayagam puts it.

A look ahead: As global conflicts shift, the U.S. military needs suppliers like Parts Life to help it develop solutions for future challenges, too.

  • “Right now, our military is coming out of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but future conflicts may involve different terrain with different problem sets,” said Thevanayagam.
  • “The work that we are doing today is helping them figure out how to approach those challenges. We’re having them tell us where they need to be, and then we’re helping them with the innovation they need to be successful.”

A tough choice: With the change in tax law, companies like Parts Life will be forced to make difficult decisions about how to spend scarcer resources, harming their ability to do critical, forward-looking work.

  • “Currently, we’re leaning forward in resources and talent to lead the future,” said Thevanayagam. “If the government is going to pull the rug out from under us, we’re not going to be able to be aggressive. We’ll have to focus on maintaining our business rather than investing in new innovation.”

Our take: The NAM has pushed forcefully for the tax change to be reversed—and in October, told policymakers that the R&D amortization provision poses a “serious threat to our national security,” in part because of its impact on manufacturers like Parts Life that supply and support the U.S. military.

The bottom line: “The only way for us to continue to be relevant is to make sure that we’re investing in innovation and seeing what we can do to be a part of designing the future,” said Thevanayagam.

Visit the NAM’s R&D Action Center for critical R&D policy updates, industry stories and an opportunity to engage directly with your members of Congress. 

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