WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service has decided to let companies deduct ISO 9000 costs as a business expense, after lobbying by National Tooling & Machining Association and other trade groups. The early January ruling means companies can deduct in one year the cost of earning the quality certification, rather than writing it off over three years as a capital expense.
NTMA raised the issue with the IRS in mid-1998, after one of its members tried to deduct ISO costs as a business expense and was turned down.
IRS officials had no immediate comment. NTMA announced the ruling Jan. 7.
The dispute started because the IRS considered ISO certification a way to enhance a company's competitiveness. NTMA argued that ISO was a necessary business expense because many of its members' customers require certification as a contractual obligation, said John Cox, NTMA's manager of government affairs.
"You really can't be a player in the global economy unless you are [ISO 9000 certified]," Cox said.
The IRS ruling said some costs that extend beyond one year, such as those for manuals, still must be treated as capital expenses.
ISO 9000 certification typically costs NTMA members between $15,000 and $100,000, Cox said. ISO is a set of international standards to assure consistency in manufacturing.
The National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Businesses helped NTMA negotiate with the IRS.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti made the issue a priority for 1999, Cox said. Without that designation, the agency probably still would be considering it, he said.
Cox said he was not sure if the ruling applies to other ISO certifications.