What is in this article?:
- Congress passes $900 billion tax package
- Retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit
- Many House Democrats were unhappy when it was revealed the deal included another two years of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans along with generous estate tax revisions (providing a $5 million exemption and maximum rate of 35 percent). An amendment to pull the estate tax portion of the legislation failed on a 233 to 194 vote.
- On the Republican side, legislators anxious to cut government spending, and goaded by the Tea Party, were displeased with the bill’s Obama-pushed stimulus spending. In the end, the bill passed the House 277 to 148.
- Besides estate tax changes, the bill also provided extensions of biofuel tax incentives (lobbied for heavily by corn, soybean and ethanol interests) and included lower capital gains and income taxes.
Retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit
“Retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit through Dec. 31, 2011, represents a significant legislative achievement on a key ASA priority,” said Alan Kemper, American Soybean Association (ASA) President and soybean farmer from Lafayette, Ind. With the biodiesel tax credit defunct for 349 days along with the resulting loss of some 40,000 jobs, “soybean farmers greatly appreciate the work of Congress and the (Obama) administration to get this legislation passed before the end of the year.”
In a statement, the ASA claims the $1 per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive “is structured in a manner that makes biodiesel more competitive with petroleum diesel fuel in the market place. Absent the tax incentive, biodiesel is more expensive than conventional diesel fuel.”
2010 biodiesel production decreased over 35 percent from 2009 levels. Further “the biodiesel tax credit has a direct impact on jobs and is critical to supporting the biodiesel industry, a major market for U.S. soybean oil and a key factor in supporting domestic soybean prices” recently.
“It’s been a long process and ASA has worked tirelessly since the tax credit’s expiration to get it reinstated,” Kemper said. “ASA farmer-leaders have met with members of Congress on numerous occasions, supported by ASA members, the National Biodiesel Board, and supporters who have responded … by calling and emailing their representatives in an effort to get a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit passed.”
There is little fence-straddling regarding the legislation. Calling the tax bill “fundamentally unjust,” Kate McMahon of Friends of the Earth charged Congress had “slipped a wasteful $6 billion giveaway to the dirty corn ethanol industry into this bill.
“An unprecedented coalition of taxpayer, libertarian, environmental, humanitarian, industry, agricultural, faith and progressive advocates united to oppose the extension of corn ethanol subsidies, but Congress lavished this gift on the corn ethanol industry anyway. This wasted money will line the pockets of polluting corporations while American families can barely afford to put food on the table.”
Unsurprisingly, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) – which has long said extension of the ethanol blender’s credit and estate tax reform was at the top of its agenda – was unmoved by environmentalists’ arguments. Failure to renew the tax breaks “would have done much to harm our nation’s rural economy and the future of America’s farms,” said Bart Schott, NCGA President and North Dakota corn farmer.
“The estate tax reform will allow greater flexibility when planning for the future and farmers won’t have to worry about losing their land to pay an inheritance tax,” Schott said. “Farmers now have a better ability to pass their land onto the next generation and we can keep America’s farms in our families.”