WASHINGTON—Today, Rep. John Rose (R-TN) along with Reps. Darin LaHood (R-IL), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) introduced the CERTS Tax Exemption Act to provide relief to the motorcoach, school bus and passenger vessel industries devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act grants, while extremely beneficial for those industries, only replaced about 20% of their lost revenue from 2020. Motorcoach and passenger vessel businesses were forced to shut down for months by no fault of their own after sweeping government mandates related to COVID-19 put the tourism industry on pause. A tax exemption for CERTS Act grants would provide these essential transportation services with the needed resources to fully recover and serve our local tourism and hospitality industries.
“In Tennessee, the motorcoach industry plays a vital role in our state’s travel, tourism, and music industries,” said Rose. “Unfortunately, they will be one of the last industries to recover. That recovery will only be made slower because of the taxes they must pay on Covid relief funds, unlike other tax-exempt pandemic relief programs. Taxing Covid relief funds tends to defeat the purpose of the program, so making the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) tax-exempt will put the motorcoach industry on a level playing field and a path to a quicker recovery to fully provide their services to the community.”
“Illinois’ motorcoach and bus companies provide important transportation services to communities across our region and offer good-paying jobs,” said Rep. LaHood. “The CERTS Act 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.”
“Motorcoach and passenger vessels are an important part of our tourism industry here on the Central Coast. Unfortunately, many of those businesses are still hurting from the financial losses that they suffered during the pandemic,” said Rep. Panetta. “Even though Congress provided some relief with the CERTS Act grants, this legislation that I authored and introduced with my Democrat and Republican colleagues would provide those businesses with the tools that they need to fully recover and continue being a cornerstone for our local economy.
“The CERTS program has provided much needed relief for the motorcoach and school bus industries, which provide essential public services and were devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Sires. “Our legislation to make this program tax-exempt will provide critical support for grantees and bring parity with other industries that have received relief funds from Congress, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, Shuttered Venues Operators Grant and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants, which are all tax-exempt.”
“United Motorcoach Association (UMA) Members deeply appreciate the CERTS grants intended as emergency relief funds,” said UMA president & CEO Scott Michael. “Imposing a tax bill on relief funds based on 2020 lost revenues but not received until August 2021 compounds an already difficult crisis as the motorcoach industry struggles to emerge from the disparate effects of COVID.”
“This is about fairness. The emergency grants awarded through the CERTS Act program should be treated the same way the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Shuttered Venues Operators Grant program (SVOG), and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grant program were treated in terms of taxation,” said Pete Pantuso, President and CEO of American Bus Association.
“The nation’s school bus contractors suffered greatly due to school closures during the pandemic and appreciate the help Congress offered in the form of CERTS grants. The National School Transportation Association supports making that relief tax exempt, similar to other covid relief,” said Curt Macysyn, Executive Director of NSTA.
“Last fall, CERTS awards enabled American passenger vessel operators to stay in business and recoup some of their earlier pandemic-related losses. Nonetheless, the effective value of a CERTS grant was significantly diminished because the grant must be included in a recipient’s federal gross income for tax purposes,” said John Groundwater, Executive Director of the Passenger Vessel Association.
U.S. Rep. John Rose is currently serving his second term representing Tennessee’s Sixth Congressional District and resides in Cookeville with his wife, Chelsea, and their two sons, Guy and Sam. The Sixth District includes Cannon, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, White and Wilson counties as well as portions of Cheatham and Van Buren counties. Representative Rose currently serves on the Financial Services Committee and is an eighth-generation farmer, small business owner and attorney.