On April 5, 2016, the biofuel trade associations Advanced Biofuels Business Council, Algae Biomass Organization, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, and Renewable Fuels Association sent a letter to House and Senate Leaders asking for a multiyear extension of advanced biofuel tax credits. The six organizations are specifically asking that the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit, and the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property through the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015 are extended before they expire at the end of 2016. Other energy production tax credits have been extended, and the biofuel trade associations argue that extending certain energy tax provisions and not others creates investment uncertainty across the energy sector, and puts biofuel producers at a disadvantage.
On April 6, 2016, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed Senate File 2300, creating a five cent tax credit, per pound of renewable chemicals produced from biomass feedstock between 2017 and 2026. Spokesman for Governor, Ben Hammes, stated, "Gov. Branstad believes this biochemical tax program will go even further to continue spurring economic growth all over Iowa, creating more high-quality jobs and attracting investments in renewable chemical manufacturing and advanced bio-refining." The bill passed the Iowa Senate on March 16, 2016, with a vote of 46-3, and the Iowa House on March 28, 2016, with a vote of 95-1.
The tax credit will take effect July 1, 2016, and will be capped at $105 million for each fiscal year through June 30, 2021. After 2021, the general assembly will determine if the tax credit limitation will be continued. The law does not apply to renewable chemicals that are sold to be used as food, feed, or fuel, but does include building-block chemicals, supplements, vitamins, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals as long as there is no caloric value. Biomass-derived ethanol, fatty acid methyl esters, and butanol are eligible for the credit as long as they are produced and sold for uses other than food or fuel.
On March 17, 2016, the Iowa State Senate voted 46-3 to approve Senate File 2300, a bill creating a production tax credit for renewable chemicals. The legislation was created to attract investment in renewable chemical manufacturing and biorefining to Iowa, and covers the production of higher value biochemicals from plant materials left over from biofuel production. The House Ways and Means Committee approved House File 2288, a companion bill, and sent the measure to the House floor. Senate File 2300 allows eligible businesses to claim a five cent tax credit per pound of renewable chemicals produced from biomass feedstock between 2017 and 2026. Tax credits resulting from the bill will be capped at $105 million per year, with a limit of $10 million per company. The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) released an announcement in favor of the renewable chemical tax credit. Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President of BIO's Industrial & Environmental Section, stated: "Renewable chemicals help protect the environment and create new jobs. Iowa's new tax credit will encourage biotechnology and renewable chemical companies to make investments and deploy innovative homegrown technology in Iowa. BIO will continue to work with the Iowa legislature, other states and the federal government to level the playing field in economic development incentives for renewable chemical and biobased manufacturing technologies."
On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the omnibus spending bill, or Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, into law. The $1.1 trillion spending bill includes the retroactive extension of the $1 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel blenders through December 31, 2016, while extending the second-generation biofuel production credit through January 1, 2017. In addition to extending tax credits for biofuels, the bill also funds a wide range of government programs through the end of 2016, including the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (BAP), and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
On November 10, 2015, Senator Stabenow (D-MI), along with Senators Coons (D-DE) and Franken (D-MN), introduced S. 2271, the Renewable Chemicals Act of 2015 to the Senate. If passed, the bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to create short-term tax credits for the production of renewable chemicals and for investments in renewable chemical production facilities. Producing eligible renewable chemicals from biomass feedstock would result in a tax credit of 15 cents per pound of renewable chemicals produced, or producers could take a 30 percent investment tax credit for qualified investments on new renewable chemical production facilities. S. 2271 has been referred to the Committee on Finance. The companion bill in the House of Representatives is H.R. 3390, Qualifying Renewable Chemical Production or Investment Tax Credit Act of 2015.
On October 4, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill No. 1032, an act to amend Sections 60501 and 60505.5 of the Revenue and Taxation code, relating to taxation, into law. The bill adds biodiesel to the list of fuels that are eligible for tax refunds when they are used for nontaxable purposes. Starting on January 1, 2016, the State Board of Equalization will provide refunds on the portion of nontaxable biodiesel removed from the terminal to those that can show that they have already paid the tax on the fuel.
On August 10, 2015, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) signed into law S.B. 2599/A-4121, an act concerning the definition of certain fuels and amending P.L.2010, c.22. The legislation clarifies New Jersey's Motor Fuel Tax Act exemptions to include biofuels made from recycled grease, plants, and animal fats. In addition, biobased liquid fuel and biodiesel fuel are now defined as renewable biomass. The clarification of the biofuel tax exemption is intended to encourage biodiesel businesses to invest in New Jersey now that they can be certain that they qualify for tax exemptions. The bipartisan bill was passed unanimously by the New Jersey Assembly on June 25, 2015.
On August 18, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a notice containing tax code information for 2014 biodiesel tax credits. The focus of the notice is the treatment of credits under Internal Revenue Code Section 6426(c) and (d) that allow a biodiesel blender to claim a credit against tax liability. Generally, the tax liability is in the form of excise taxes imposed by Sections 4041 and 4081 and is reported on Form 720, Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return, and the Section 6426 credits are claimed on Schedule C (Form 720), Claims. The IRS notice informs claimants about the federal income tax treatment of these credits and illustrates the application of the income tax treatment for claimants.
On July 29, 2015, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide credits for the production of renewable chemicals and investments in renewable chemical production facilities, and for other purposes (H.R. 3390) was introduced in the House. The bill would expand production and investment tax credits that are currently available to renewable energy producers to apply also to renewable chemical manufacturers. The program allows manufactures to choose either: (1) a 15 cents per pound production credit for eligible renewable chemicals; or (2) a 30 percent investment tax credit for the construction of renewable chemical production facilities. The credits will be in effect for five years after the bill is enacted, and will be capped at $500 million over the life of the program. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has expressed its support for H.R. 3390, restating the need to create a level playing field in the U.S. for industrial biotech companies to innovate and develop new renewable chemicals and biobased products.
On June 24, 2015, the Master Limited Partnership Parity Act (S. 1656) was reintroduced in the House and the Senate. The legislation would provide investors in renewable energy projects with tax breaks that are currently available to investors in fossil fuel-based energy projects. A master limited partnership is taxed as a partnership, but ownership interests are traded like corporate stock, thus avoiding the double taxation that can occur with traditional corporate structures when both profits and dividends are taxed. "Renewable energy technologies have made tremendous progress in the last several decades, and they deserve the same shot at success in the market as traditional energy projects," stated co-sponsor of the bill Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). This legislation would extend the benefits of a master limited partnership to biomass, municipal solid waste, solar, cellulosic fuels, biodiesel, algae-based fuels, and other renewable energy technologies.