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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Transportation groups weigh in on tax-reform legislation passed by Congress

Several rail-related trade associations endorsed the tax-reform legislation passed by Congress yesterday.

Leaders of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), American Association of Port Authorities and Building America's Future issued statements saying they welcomed passage of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act."

The legislation did not include a permanent extension of the Section 45G short-line tax credit, an issue of concern to small railroads. But AAR and ASLRRA officials said they hope the tax-credit issue will be addressed when Congress takes up an expected "extenders" package, as well as a major infrastructure plan that President Trump has said he intends to propose.

AAPA and Building America's Future officials said they were pleased that Congress decided to keep the tax preferred status for private activity bonds that sometimes are used to finance infrastructure projects. AAPA also approved of a measure in the final legislation that continues an existing level of wind energy production tax credits.

However, Building America's Future officials indicated disappointment that the legislation did not address future funding of the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for infrastructure projects.

Following are comments provided by the associations' leaders.

"Tax reform will make our customers and the freight railroads more globally competitive, and we applaud Congress for passing this legislation. Key provisions, namely the reduction of the corporate tax rate and full and immediate expensing for five years, will help support private investment across the 140,000-mile rail network and the entire economy." — AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger

"ASLRRA members ... look forward to the economic growth that will be spurred on by this legislation. Short Line railroads also remain optimistic that Congress will continue the short line railroad track rehabilitation tax credit in an upcoming 'Extenders' package. The credit ensures that short line railroads will be able to invest in infrastructure to meet future growth and to ensure safe and reliable operations across our networks." — ASLRRA President Linda Bauer Darr

"We're extremely pleased that the final legislation keeps the tax-exempt status for PABs [private activity bonds]. This provision will help foster investments, not just in and around ports, but also in needed infrastructure development throughout the nation." — AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle

"We are disappointed that infrastructure was never tied to the tax reform package. This was a wasted opportunity to inject much needed funding into the Highway Trust Fund and to take steps to ensure the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. We urge President Trump and Congress to prioritize infrastructure in January, and work together to develop a bipartisan and strategic bill that provides long-term funding." — Building America's Future President Marcia Hale


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