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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Sen. Schumer: Short-line tax credit extension measure cleared Senate Finance Committee


U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday announced that an effort to extend the short-line tax credit for two years cleared a first big hurdle by passing out of the Senate Committee on Finance as a part of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act, which would reinstate a package of expired tax provisions.

Schumer now is urging the full Senate to quickly take up and pass the entire EXPIRE Act package. If extended until 2016, the tax credit — which expired on Dec. 31 — would fund capital improvement projects along New York’s short-line railways, such as pending infrastructure upgrades proposed by the New York Susquehanna and Western Railway, Saratoga and North Creek Railroad, and Finger Lakes Railway, the senator said in a press release.

Schumer long has advocated for an extension of the short-line tax credit, or Section 45G of the U.S. tax code. The senator supported the extension of the short-line tax credit as a co-sponsor of the Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2013 (H.R. 721/S. 411).

Originally enacted in January 2005, the Section 45G provision enables regionals and short lines to claim a tax credit of 50 cents for every dollar spent on infrastructure improvements, up to a cap of $3,500 per mile of owned or leased track. Over half of all track in New York is operated by short lines, said Schumer.

"Short-line railways support commuter-rail lines, connect our local businesses with major distribution hubs and help grow our economy from the ground up. Providing these railways with this tax credit simply makes sense," he said. "It will keep our tracks safe and up-to-date, and allow railroads to take on exciting new projects that will benefit railways and local businesses."

S. 411 currently has 49 co-sponsors and soon might gain majority support in the Senate, according to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA). H.R. 721 already has secured majority support in the House by attracting 241 co-sponsors. Majority support is especially important when a bill is incorporated into multi-purpose federal legislation, such as an extenders package, ASLRRA officials said in an item included in the April 3 edition of the association's "Views & News" newsletter.