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Shaheen Joins Bill to Make Transportation Sector COVID Grants Tax Exempt

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) recently helped introduce bipartisan legislation -- the CERTS Tax Exemption Act – which would ensure the transportation industry does not owe taxes on grants they received during the pandemic allocated through the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) program. The bipartisan legislation is led by U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Jack Reed (D-RI). 

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, funds allocated through the CERTS Act were a lifeline for motorcoach, bus and passenger vessel companies across the nation. These companies are critical to supporting our public transportation industry and should not be faced with steep tax bills as a result of their participation in this relief program,” said Senator Shaheen. “That’s why I’m glad to support this bipartisan legislation to ensure CERTS program grants remain exempt from taxation, similar to other pandemic-era relief programs.”

“When the pandemic hit, Tennessee’s top industries became all too familiar with closures and financial hardship, and the transportation industry was no exception,” said Senator Blackburn. “While they received vital support to sustain their businesses, bus, motorcoach, and other passenger vessel companies are now faced with exorbitant tax bills through no fault of their own. My bill ensures the transportation industry – which plays a critical role in the Volunteer State’s economy, from tourism to entertainment – is treated fairly and granted the same tax exemptions that restaurants and performance halls received.”

The bill is supported by United Motorcoach Association, American Bus Association, National School Transportation Association, and Passenger Vessel Association.  

The bipartisan CERTS Act, included in the December 2020 COVID relief package, provided $2 billion in emergency funding for the motorcoach, bus, and passenger vessel companies. While this program provided a much-needed lifeline to this industry, their grants were not exempted from taxation like other grants such as the Paycheck Protection Program, the Restaurant Revitalization Funding, and the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Program. As a result, many businesses that accepted this critical funding through the CERTS program now face large tax bills that have become a huge burden on their business. This bill would exempt them from taxation and put the CERTS program at par with the rest of the relief programs passed during the same period.  

A lead negotiator of bipartisan talks that led to the COVID-19 relief legislation signed into law in December of 2021, Shaheen repeatedly fought to support transportation networks that were hard-hit by the pandemic. Shaheen also consistently pushed for additional funding and resources for the transportation industry and its employees at the start of the pandemic.