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At the Washington conference

November 18, 2010
By Ray Scarpelli Sr., Metro Chicago NADA Director

The estate tax, said NADA chairman William Bradshaw, at the 31st annual Washington Conference last month, "remains the biggest roadblock to family businesses being passed from one generation to the next. If we don’t push, [reform] is not going to happen." By coming to Washington, dealers got an in-person opportunity to press senators to vote for legislation that would, among other things, raise the estate tax exemption to an initial $5 million per individual and $10 million per couple, and would lower tax rates for $10 million-plus estates. (At press time, a Senate vote on the legislation was planned for sometime after the Senate reconvenes in November.)


Washington Conference speakers supported NADA’s push for reform. The estate tax "penalizes risk-taking and saving," said keynote speaker Vice President Dick Cheney. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), speaking at the DEAC Presidents Club reception, called the estate tax the "most un-American…tax that we have. We tell every American to work as hard as you can…and when you die, we take 55 percent." And calls for change aren’t just coming from Republicans: Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.) said he’d vote for a bipartisan reform bill.


Cheney opened his talk by praising dealers’ economic contributions. He and House majority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) also thanked dealers for their community involvement.


Also at the Washington Conference:


  • Mississippi dealer Bert Allen was honored with the first annual NADA Capital Achievement Award for his longtime grassroots work.
  • Speakers supported a Senate bill that would require insurers to make publicly accessible the VIN numbers of vehicles declared total losses. Cars damaged in accidents or by natural disasters "are not only a threat to consumers, but a threat to dealerships from one end of the country to the other," said Republican senator Mel Martinez (Fla.) (A similar House bill, H.R. 6093, was proposed after the conference. NADA encourages all dealers to contact their senators and representatives to ask them to cosponsor these important bills.)
  • Speakers opposed changing the last-in-first-out (LIFO) accounting procedure, which can help a typical dealership defer hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. In April, Senate Republicans proposed repealing LIFO. The plan was defeated, but may not be a dead issue.
  • NADA continues to offer its free, confidential telephone-based financial consulting service for all dealerships—the Lifeline consulting hotline. For advice on improving your store’s operations and financial stability, call 888/672-5140 (9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday-Friday). You’ll speak with one of NADA’s industry-leading 20 Group consultants or Dealer Academy instructors, all of whom have real-world experience in dealership operations. For more info on the Lifeline program, go to 
  • Through November, NADA members can bring a manager or another attendee for free to one of the association’s seminars. Offerings include "How to Maximize Profits in Your Used-Vehicle Operation" (November 7-10, Houston); "Jump-Start Your Service Department Profits" (November 13-17, St. Louis); and "Totally Trucks—Fast Track for GMs: Focus on the Financial Statement" (November 13-15, Tampa, Fla.). For a full seminar schedule, more details, and registration, go to or call 800.252.6232, ext. 2.
  • NADA is celebrating 100 years of the automotive franchise system this year. The October issue of NADA’s AutoExec magazine traces the history of the U.S. retail auto industry.  
  • NADA has also produced a 30-minute documentary, The First Century: 100 Years of America’s Auto Dealerships. It’s included with the October issue ofAutoExec and illustrates dealers’ "proud past and promising future."
  • October is NADA’s Automotive Career Month. If you’re hosting an event to introduce students in your community to dealership careers, NADA would like to know about it. If you have photos or video of your event, please contact Pam Broberg at or 703/821-7147.  
  • Online advance registration for the 2007 NADA Convention and Exposition in Las Vegas, Feb. 3-6, is open through Dec. 22. Thousands of dealers and industry leaders have already registered, and several hotels, including the Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn, Paris, and Venetian, are sold out. To register online or download a registration form, visit or call the convention department at 703-821-7188.


As always, let me know your ideas and concerns, so I can meet your needs as your NADA director.