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Builders group hits $1.1 million in fourth quarter lobbying

Los Angeles (AP) — The homebuilding industry’s main trade association spent $1.1 million in the fourth quarter lobbying Congress, the White House and several government agencies on housing, taxes, health care and other issues, according to a disclosure report.

The National Association of Home Builders shelled out about 49 percent more than the $740,000 it spent for lobbying in the prior-year period. It paid out $750,000 in the third quarter of 2009.

The NAHB also lobbied the federal government on legislation involving immigration, labor, banking, air and water quality, energy, bankruptcy, endangered species, small business, torts, transportation and trade, according to the report filed Jan. 15.

Builders on the trade association’s roster account for 80 percent of the new homes built in the U.S. each year.

The group lobbied on several housing-related issues during the quarter, including a bill that expanded federal tax credits for homebuyers and extended a tax break that lets companies in the red recoup income taxes paid during profitable years.

In November, Congress passed a law that lets companies of all sizes that are losing money reach back five years and get a refund for taxes paid when they were making money. That was a boon to builders because the economy and the housing market were flying high five years ago.

In recent weeks, many large builders — including KB Home, Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. and Meritage Homes Corp. — have reported profitable quarterly results that include gains from tax refunds.

Homebuilders’ orders began to improve last year thanks to low interest rates and government incentives, primarily a tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers.

That credit was due to expire at the end of November, but the NAHB and other housing groups argued the credit was needed to spur the still-weak housing market. Lawmakers extended the credit until April 30 and added a $6,500 credit for buyers who have previously owned a home.

The trade association also lobbied the departments of Labor, Energy, Commerce, Treasury, as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Government Accountability Office, U.S. Trade Representative and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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