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Shaheen, Pappas Urge USDA to Support Income Tax Exclusion for New Hampshire’s PFAS Rebate Program, Helping Granite Staters Save Money and Keep Drinking Water Safe

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and U.S. Representative Chris Pappas (NH-01) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging the Department to support the State of New Hampshire’s request to exclude payments from the per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) Rebate Program from income taxes, ensuring Granite Staters do not have to pay more out-of-pocket costs to address drinking water contamination.  

In part, Shaheen and Pappas wrote, “Nearly half of New Hampshire residents get their water supply at home from private wells. PFAS have increasingly been discovered in wells across New Hampshire and these “forever chemicals” in the water supply pose a significant risk to people’s health and well-being. […] Programs like the PFAS Rebate Program are imperative to ensure clean drinking water is accessible to everyone.” 

“We are concerned that access to clean, safe drinking water could be negatively impacted if recipients are prevented from accessing the full financial assistance offered by the rebates. As the Environmental Protection Agency finalizes national drinking water standards for PFAS, more of our constituents may learn about and take advantage of the PFAS Rebate Program. The current tax treatment of these payments risks limiting future participants’ access to clean drinking water and jeopardizing the health of even more New Hampshire families,” they continued.  

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Shaheen has long led efforts to uncover the health effects related to PFAS contamination. Shaheen recently responded to the release of the first Pease Health Study Report – a first-in-the-nation study to better understand the impacts of PFAS in drinking water. She has also worked to improve clinician guidance and protocols based on recommendations made by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) in a 2022 report. 

As a lead negotiator on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Senator Shaheen worked to secure $10 billion to specifically address PFAS and other emerging contaminants, $5 billion of which is targeted to small and disadvantaged communities. Congress intended for that funding to be available to states to help address private well contamination among other eligible uses of the funding. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) interprets the statute as only allowing for assistance to private wells if it is being used to connect to public water systems. Because connecting to public water systems may not be feasible or desirable in all cases, Shaheen recently introduced legislation to clarify that assistance may be provided for the benefit of well owners that are not public water systems and are not connected to a public water system. Shaheen successfully included this clarification for fiscal year (FY) 2024 funding in appropriations legislation that was signed into law on March 9. 

Pappas has been a leader in addressing PFAS and fighting for better standards, increased investment, and a stronger national focus on the issue of PFAS contamination. Pappas introduced the No Taxation on PFAS Remediation Act, which would remove federal taxes on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination reimbursements. He has also introduced the Clean Water Standards for PFAS 2.0 Act, which would further regulate PFAS by setting deadlines for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop water quality criteria and limits on industrial PFAS discharges into water and to water treatment plants. Heeding Pappas’s call, the Biden Administration announced it was establishing enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels for certain PFAS chemicals in drinking water.