Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Darin LaHood (IL-16) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-19) reintroduced the CERTS Tax Exemption Act, bipartisan legislation to provide relief to motorcoach, school bus, and passenger vessel industries devastated by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill is being led this Congress by Representatives LaHood, Panetta, John Rose (TN-06), Jared Golden (ME-02), Mike Kelly (PA-16), and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
“Illinois’ motorcoach and bus companies provide important transportation services to communities across our region and offer good-paying jobs," said Rep. LaHood. “The CERTS grant program was essential to supporting the motor coach and transportation service industry, and those small businesses should receive equal tax treatment as other disproportionally impacted businesses by the pandemic and state-mandated closures.”
“Many small businesses in the motorcoach industry were hit hard during the pandemic and are still recovering from related losses,” said Rep. Panetta. “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. 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 small businesses that make up the motorcoach industry in Maine are a key element of our state’s tourism and travel industries,” said Rep. Golden. “This bipartisan bill will ensure that these businesses receive the same tax treatment as other beneficiaries of pandemic relief programs as they work to get Mainers and others safely to their destinations.”
“In Tennessee, the motorcoach industry plays a vital role in our state’s travel, tourism, and music industries,” said Rep. Rose. “Unfortunately, their recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic was made slower because of the taxes they had to pay on COVID-19 relief funds, unlike other tax-exempt pandemic relief programs. Making the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) tax-exempt will put the motorcoach industry on a level playing field with other industries.”
“The CERTS grant relief program provided a necessary lifeline to the U.S. motorcoach industry in response to the economic devastation brought about by the pandemic. Without this funding at such a critical time, numerous small, multigenerational family businesses would have faced extinction, and thousands of rural and underprivileged communities would have lost access to their only form of intercity transportation,” said Peter Pantuso, President & CEO of the American Bus Association. “However, just when the industry began to recover and stabilize, operators were penalized with an unexpected tax bill for accepting the relief, forcing them to pay a good portion of relief funds back in taxes. Like other pandemic relief programs, the CERTS grants should not be taxable; it’s a matter of fairness, equity, and recognition of the key role motorcoach operations play in this country. We greatly appreciate Representatives Darin LaHood (R-IL), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), John Rose (R-TN), and Jared Golden (R-ME), not only for their leadership on the CERTS Tax Exemption Act to fix this oversight, but also for their long-standing support of our industry.”
“The United Motorcoach Association thanks Representatives LaHood and Panetta, along with Representatives Rose, Kelly, Golden and Blumenauer for their support in re-introducing the CERTS Tax Exemption Act. The motorcoach industry lost 50% of its operators due to the pandemic. For the survivors that remain, the bill would correct an unfair disparity in tax treatment of CERTS funds as compared to all other Covid relief funds Congress provided. UMA strongly appreciates the support as the industry continues to recover and rebuild,” said Scott Michael, President and CEO of the United Motorcoach Association.
“On behalf of the nation’s private school bus contractors and 40% of the nations’ schoolchildren that rely on them for transportation to and from school, the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) thanks Representatives LaHood and Panetta for their longstanding leadership in fighting for fair tax treatment for CERTS funds,” said Curt Macysyn, Executive Director of NSTA. “NSTA also thanks Representatives Rose, Kelly, Golden and Blumenauer for their support in reintroducing the CERTS Tax Exemption Act. The private school bus industry suffered tremendous losses during the pandemic when many school districts refused to pay contractors during closures. School bus operators are still recovering and appreciate the support to correct the oversight on tax status of CERTS funds.”
“Grants from the CERTS program were a lifeline for U.S. passenger vessel operators during the coronavirus pandemic,” said John Groundwater, Executive Director of the Passenger Vessel Association. “Unlike the Paycheck Protection Program and the Restaurant Revitalization Program, which were both tax free, CERTS grants were taxable. We believe this was simply an oversight and we urge Congress to take the necessary steps to make CERTS non-taxable.”
- Established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the CERTS grant program provided relief to the motorcoach, school bus, and passenger vessel industries that were devastated by the economic impacts of COVID-19 closures.
- Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act grants, while extremely beneficial for those industries, only replaced about 20% of their lost revenue from the pandemic.
- Currently, these businesses must pay back a large portion of these emergency grants in taxes, further delaying economic recovery. Moreover, grants for other programs created during the pandemic, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), were all made non-taxable.
- Providing a tax exemption for CERTS grants will provide these essential transportation services with the needed resources to fully recover and continue to serve our local communities.