MCAA Backs Bill Giving Tax Break for Fire Sprinklers

ROCKVILLE, MD. Mechanical Contractors Association of America and local MCA affiliates have been meeting with the staffs of U.S. Reps. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., and James Langevin, D-R.I., about their bill, H.R. 1824, which would provide a substantial tax benefit to building owners who equip their property with new or retrofitted fire sprinkler systems. MCAA also is working in a broader coalition with the

ROCKVILLE, MD. — Mechanical Contractors Association of America and local MCA affiliates have been meeting with the staffs of U.S. Reps. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., and James Langevin, D-R.I., about their bill, H.R. 1824, which would provide a substantial tax benefit to building owners who equip their property with new or retrofitted fire sprinkler systems.

MCAA also is working in a broader coalition with the National Fire Sprinkler Association and other groups to broaden congressional support for the economic stimulus and public safety aspects of the measure.

The bill, which now has 48 co-sponsors, amends the Internal Revenue Code to accelerate the depreciation schedule for fire sprinkler systems from 39 years to five years. The bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

If the legislation is enacted, a sprinkler system costing $250,000, for example, would be depreciated at $110,000 the first year, with the balance deducted over the next five years. This compares favorably to the existing system, which only allows depreciation of the system at $3,205 the first year; the balance would not fully depreciate for 39 years.

U.S. Rep. Phil English, R-Pa., a member of the Ways and Means Committee, has supported a request to the Joint Committee on Taxation to have the bill “scored,” that is, assess what it would cost.

Another Ways and Means Committee member, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, D-Ohio, has introduced a narrower federal grant measure providing grants to educational institutions to install sprinkler systems in student housing structures (H.R. 1613, the College Fire Prevention Act). It would provide up to $100 million per year from 2004 to 2008 in Education Department grants to colleges on the basis of need. The bill has 49 co-sponsors and is before the House Education and Workforce Committee.

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