HomeGovernmentHouse Bill Tries Again for CERTS Act Tax Exemption

House Bill Tries Again for CERTS Act Tax Exemption

A renewed effort is underway to assist school bus contractors and other private transportation companies still recovering from the financial impact of COVID-19.

Despite the federal government official ending its pandemic regulations earlier this month, the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) and other commercial passenger carrier advocates say private companies continue to struggle from “severe economic losses” incurred during shutdowns, school or otherwise.

The Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act passed in 2021 was designed to help these companies via $2 billion in emergency funding. But as NSTA Executive Director Curt Macysyn pointed out on Friday, CERTS grants only covered about 20 percent of lost revenues.

And attached to the law, unlike the Paycheck Protection Program and other COVID-era funds, is a requirement that grantees pay taxes on the amount they received. Macysyn told School Transportation News the tax is based on the tax liability of each individual company.

Amid calls for increased CERTS funding, NSTA and a coalition of advocates also want tax-exempt status, which was the target of legislation introduced last year by Republican Rep. Darrin LaHood of Illinois and Democrat Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California.

Their first attempt failed, but on Thursday LaHood and Panetta reintroduced the bipartisan CERTS Tax Exemption Act, HB 3515, which at this report was in the House Ways and Means committee.

“The bipartisan CERTS Tax Exemption Act would ensure that COVID assistance for these businesses is tax exempt in order to help this industry fully recover and continue serving customers,” said Panetta in a statement. “As we get past the pandemic, we can’t leave behind critical sectors of our tourism and hospitality industry, especially the small businesses that provide passenger vehicles.”

The reintroduced bill comes three weeks after school bus contractor representatives met with 80 congressional members and their staff members in Washington, D.C., during the NSTA 2023 Capitol Hill Bus-In.

Related: CERTS By the Numbers: How Treasury Divided Up $2B
Related: Nearly 100 U.S. Representatives Seek Tax-Free Status for CERTS Program Funds
Related: UMA Launches Campaign for $6 Billion in Additional CERTS Grants

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