An unusual lobbying alliance of business, tax reform, consumer and other interest groups has been formed to fight for repeal of the controversial corporate tax sales provisions in the 1981 tax act.
The Coalition for Repeal of Safe Harbor Leasing contends that the provision, which is expected to cost more than $29 billion in lost revenue through 1986, amounts to an unjustifiable form of "corporate welfare" at a time when Congress is dominated by a drive to cut the federal deficit.
Repeal of corporate tax sales is one major issue facing the Senate Finance Committee, which is scheduled to begin putting together a tax package next week that will raise $20.9 billion in 1983 and $100 billion through 1985.
Many of Washington's most influential lobbyists representing the railroad, mining, automobile, airline and other beleaguered industries have been conducting an intense campaign to preserve the provisions. Under the law, companies that do not pay taxes can sell the tax breaks on new investments--depreciation and investment credits--to profitable firms through paper transactions called leases.
There are two pro-leasing lobbies. One was organized by LTV Corp., and the other has hired the firm of Charls E. Walker Associates to coordinate the effort.
The anti-leasing group includes the Consumer Federation of America, the Environment Action Foundation, the U.S. Students Association, the American Association of Retired Persons, Congress Watch, Texas International Airlines and a subsidiary, Continental Airlines.
Bill Chandler of the Environmental Policy Center said the leasing provisions have been used to provide federal subsidies to "environmentally destructive projects."
George Warde, president of Texas International, which has broken with most other airlines in opposing corporate leasing, said his firm took advantage of the tax break, but it is now functioning to subsidize the purchase of new aircraft at a time when existing airplanes are flying with many empty seats.