What do failing banks and foreclosed houses have to do with race tracks? A lot, apparently, if you're Charles Schumer. The New York Senator added an earmark to the nation's $700 billion "rescue plan" that will extend current tax laws for race tracks that allow them to be considered the same as amusement parks in the eyes of the IRS. As long as that's the case, track facilities can write off improvements to their concession stands, parking lots and the tracks themselves over a seven-year period rather than 15 years. On the surface this sounds like small potatoes, but adding up the numbers reveals that the tracks will save $100 million in taxes by writing off improvements over a shorter span of time. That means less of the earnings from each of those seven years will go towards taxes, helping the track owners achieve a higher annual profit in the short term.

The race track earmark wasn't in the House bill that got shot down last week, but was added by Senator Schumer to the 450-page bill, along with a number of other earmarks by other senators, to attract a few more Yes votes when the bill returned to the House of Representatives. It must have worked, as the House passed the bill today by a vote of 263-171 and it was signed into law by President Bush this afternoon. We feel rescued already.

[Source: Miami Herald]