Senators propose bill to extend biodiesel, other expired tax provisions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two key senators introduced legislation on Thursday to extend numerous expired tax provisions, including measures on biodiesel and disaster assistance, as the April 15 tax filing deadline looms.

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Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican who chairs the tax-writing Finance Committee, and Senator Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat, introduced legislation that would temporarily extend nearly 30 tax provisions that expired in 2017 or 2018 and special tax provisions to address natural disasters.

“We’re in the middle of the filing season for 2018 tax returns, and taxpayers affected by these expired provisions need a resolution so they can file,” Grassley said, adding that he wants to “find a long-term resolution so we don’t have temporary tax policy.”

More than 50 groups representing diverse business, energy, transportation, real estate and agriculture sectors on Thursday wrote Congress asking it to address expired tax provisions, saying the uncertainly about the tax incentives “has threatened thousands of jobs in the U.S. economy.”

The bill would extend a $1.01 per gallon biofuel producer credit and a $1 a gallon tax credit for biodiesel.

The bill also would extend a tax credit for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, a credit for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property and a tax credit for highway capable two-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles.

The National Biodiesel Board said producers “have counted on the credit to secure blending contracts and financing for plant expansions and upgrades... The uncertainty is already forcing producers to put plans for facility upgrades and expansions on hold.”

The measure would also extend credits for railroad track maintenance, three-year depreciation for young race horses, tax breaks for motorsports complexes and special expensing rules for some film, TV and theater productions.

It would also allow taxpayers to continue to deduct mortgage insurance premiums as interest.

The measure does not expand an existing $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit even as automakers press to extend it beyond current rules that phase out the incentive after an automaker hits 200,000 EV sales.

Wyden said it is “past time to kick the addiction to short-term tax policies, but until Congress is able to break this cycle for good, taxpayers deserve certainty.”

The bill extends disaster tax relief benefits for 2018, including rules allowing access to retirement funds and a credit for employee retention during business interruption.

The bill would also reinstate an excise tax of $0.09 per barrel on crude oil to fund the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Dan Grebler