Issues & AdvocacyGet Involved
AIA New Hampshire members meet with the staff of Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Architects Storm Capitol Hill
By Amanda Stratton, Manager, Grassroots & Advocacy Outreach
This week, AIA members from across the nation descended on Washington, D.C. for the 2013 Grassroots Legislative and Leadership Conference. On Thursday, March 21, AIA members stormed Capitol Hill to discuss issues important to the AIA with their members of Congress.
During the meetings, members focused on four main issues:
• Small Business Tax Reform
Eight in ten architecture firms are organized as pass-throughs (sole proprietors, S corporations and partnerships) that pay taxes at individual, not corporate, rates. Passing corporate-only tax reform (i.e., lowering corporate tax rates but not individual rates) will hurt small businesses in every industry because important incentives that pass throughs rely on could be wiped away. All businesses, whether they are organized as pass-throughs or C corporations, should be treated equitably in tax reform.
• Energy Retrofits
Buildings account for more than 70 percent of electricity consumption in the U.S. The 179D Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction provides building owners a deduction of up to $1.80sf for energy efficient improvements. It also helps federal, state, and local governments finance energy improvements that reduce energy costs to taxpayers. The deduction has been a useful financing tool. But it will expire at the end of this year – unless Congress extends it.
• Student Debt Relief
There are federal programs to help medical, legal and veterinary students in exchange for pro bono work – but not architects. A 2012 survey showed that graduating architecture students carry much higher undergraduate student debt than graduates in many other professions. If these graduates cannot find work, they will leave the profession, making it more difficult for construction work to return to full speed. The AIA supports legislation to extend to architecture graduates student debt relief in exchange for pro bono work.
• Small Business Procurement
Sharp cuts to federal design and construction budgets mean more competition for fewer jobs – and the cost of competing for small firms is rising. In particular, it averages $260,000 for an architecture firm to participate in a design-build competition, and that cost is not often reimbursed. As a result, many firms are not taking part, depriving the government of good talent. A fairer federal construction process will help ensure that smaller firms have a chance to compete for jobs.
These congressional meetings are particularly important as policymakers will face a number of critical decisions this March, including whether to extend, change or cancel the budget sequestration that was delayed in early January as part of fiscal cliff negotiations.
Not at Grassroots, but want to join in? You can advocate for your profession in your hometown! Visit the Advocacy365 page to see all of the ways you can get involved.
For more information on the agenda and how you can share it with your elected representatives, click here.
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