PFI's Weekly Newsletter



November 10, 2017

In this Week's Pellet Wire:

Government Affairs Update: Senate Tax Bill

This week, the Senate Finance Committee released its version of tax reform legislation. The bill departs from its House counterpart in a number of areas. Below is a brief analysis of its provisions.  

Renewable Energy Credits The bill is silent on tax incentives for renewable energy. This is good news for us and tracks with what we were told by Senate Finance Committee staff in a meeting this week. Staff signaled that the proposal would not likely include renewable energy credits, but that other iterations of the proposal would address this area. Furthermore, staff reported that they had met with Senator Collins' team about BTU Act provisions and that these are squarely in the mix for consideration. In addition, staff hinted that Senator Collins' vote is going to be critical as this bill moves to floor consideration and that our bill is her top priority. We will keep you apprised of developments.  

Recall that the House bill includes an extension of the investment tax credits for geothermal, solar thermal and other competing renewable energy technologies. While we were disappointed that the BTU Act was not included in the House measure, Senate Finance Committee staff signaled that the mere presence of any renewable provisions in the House bill was encouraging and would provide a platform upon which the Senate could expand.  

S Corp and Pass Through Tax Treatment The Senate plan would create a 17.4 percent deduction for qualified "pass-through" income earned by non-corporate businesses, whose owners pay taxes on their profits as individuals. Thus the top rate of 38.5 percent for individuals would effectively become 31.8 percent on pass-through income; the 35 percent rate would instead be 28.9 percent, and so on.

  • Income considered to be derived from "personal services," such as from professional sports, medicine, law, consulting, accounting and investment management, would qualify for the full deduction on only the first $150,000 of taxable income ($75,000 for single filers), with the benefit phasing out over the next $50,000 in income ($25,000 for single filers).
  • Deductions are limited to 50 percent of wages and other compensation paid by partnerships and subchapter S corporations.
  • Deductions for net operating losses by active pass-through business owners, in excess of income would be capped at $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for joint filers, indexed annually for inflation.

In the House bill, qualified pass-through business owners could choose to count 70 percent of their income as wages -- subject to their individual tax rate -- and 30 percent as business income, taxable at the 25 percent rate. Or, they could set the ratio of their wage income to business income based on their capital investment.

H.R. 1 also provides a 9 percent rate for the first $75,000 in net business taxable income of an active owner or shareholder earning less than $150,000 in taxable income through a pass-through business, instead of the ordinary 12 percent rate.

Tax Incentives for Timber Like the House bill, H.R. 1, the Senate proposal leaves untouched existing tax incentives in the tax code to encourage forest landowners to keep their forested stands in timber production. These incentives include capital gains treatment for standing timber, reimbursement for reforestation costs and other incentives. 

Section 179 expensing Expensing allowances would rise from $500,000 to $1 million, with the limit on Sec. 179-eligible expenses per year rising to $2,500,000 from $2,000,000. H.R. 1 would set limits at $5 million and $20,000,000 respectively. 

Eligible property would be expanded to include lodging furnishings, and nonresidential real property such as roofs, ventilation equipment, fire protection and alarm systems.

Corporate Tax Rate The Senate bill would set the corporate tax rate at 20 percent beginning in 2019. This differs from the House which starts the 20 percent rate in 2018. 

Estate Tax The Senate proposal, like H.R. 1, doubles the basic exclusion from the current $5 million level to $10 million, which is indexed for inflation. Unlike the House bill, however, the Senate measure does not repeal the estate tax at a later date. H.R. 1 repeals the estate tax after 2024 and reduces the gift tax rate to 35 percent. 

Alternative Minimum Tax Like the House bill, AMT would be repealed under the Senate's proposal

Process  Yesterday, the House Ways & Means Committee reported out H.R. 1 on a party line vote. That bill now heads to the House floor for consideration. In the Senate, we expect a markup will be held in the Senate Finance Committee next week. We have been informed by Committee staff that this proposal is likely to change as more iterations of the bill are unveiled. But Leadership is committed to moving a tax bill out of the Finance Committee and through the Senate before Christmas.

Check Out PFI's Updated Events Calendar to Plan Ahead for Industry Events

Plan ahead for pellet, barbecue and forestry industry events! Be sure to check our updated online calendar with information on many events happening during the remainder of 2017 and into 2018. Most important, mark your calendars for next year's PFI events! 

Breakfast & Biomass at the HPB Expo in Nashville, TN - March 8-10, 2018

PFI Annual Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC - June 24-26, 2018 

If our calendar is missing any events that you're planning to attend, please send an email to Carrie

Follow PFI on Facebook and Connect with us on LinkedIn! 

We'd like to connect and interact with PFI members and anyone else involved in pellet fuels production! 

Here's how you can help us build our online community:

  1. Follow us on  LinkedIn and Facebook!
  2. Encourage your colleagues and other business associates to follow us.
  3. Send Carrie Annand news or other ideas to post on LinkedIn.

Have News to Share on Pellet Wire?

We'd love to feature your company's news in a future Pellet Wire! We want to be the first to know your company's recent developments to share them with the wider pellet fuels industry.

Please be in touch with Carrie Annand with information on your company's growth, job openings, promotions or other news. 

Join a PFI Committee

We welcome and encourage all interested PFI members to get involved in our committees. There are many opportunities to help steer the association. No matter where your expertise and interests lie, we have a committee that will suit you. Help us plan our next conference, shape our policy agenda, lead communications outreach or grow the PFI Standards Program. Visit PFI's website for more information. 

Upcoming Industry Events

March 8, 2018: HPB Expo

March 9, 2018: 2018 PFI Breakfast & Biomass

March 20, 2018: International Mass Timber Conference

April 16, 2018: International Biomass Conference & Expo

May 1, 2018: Heating the Midwest

Connect with PFI
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Fuel Availability

Are you a PFI member, pellet manufacturer , or distributor that has fuel available? Email [email protected] to have your listing updated or added to the PFI website.

Industry News

The Barbecue Smoker that Can Grill Your Steak 
Men's Health

I've cooked smoky barbecue using just about every setup imaginable, from a kettle grill burning charcoal and wood to a barrel-style smoker that ignites wood pellets. The truth is, I can cook a nice brisket in a barbecue smoker, but these cookers often lack the raw BTUs needed to sear up steaks. Turning your grill into a smoker can work, if I fuss with it consistently to keep the temperature just right.

I wanted the ability to cook real barbecue without it consuming the entire day with the flexibility to grill burgers and dogs come summer. The answer: The Monolith BBQ Guru Edition, but this kind of flexibility doesn't come cheap. Expect to pay about $1,400 for the premium setup I tested, which might be worth it to not have to babysit your pork butt or to store two pieces of gear (the Monolith starts at around $1,160).

Read Full Article

Can Co-firing with Biomass Meet International Climate Goals? 

While he's not personally present, President Trump is getting the cold shoulder at the climate meeting in Bonn, Germany because of his insistence on the wider use of coal-fired electricity. But one such idea that is getting floated there is the co-firing of biomass with coal to potentially increase efficiencies and to reduce CO2 emissions.

In this country, the federal government is now enacting policies to favor domestically-produced energy forms, namely by trying to peel back environmental regulations put in place by the previous administration to reduce CO2 levels and other pollutants. The European Union, by contrast, is favoring the use of wind and solar energy while dissuading the burning of coal to create electricity.

Read Full Article 

Loan to Allow Burns Community Ownership of Biomass System
KTVZ, Oregon

Harney County-based High Desert Biomass Co-op and regional business lender Craft3 have closed on a $1.1 million loan to allow for long-term, community ownership of an innovative, biomass district heating system in Burns.

The system, installed in 2016 by a private developer, provides renewable heat to the local courthouse, jail, elementary school, and an addiction treatment facility. The closing was celebrated by the community in Burns on Friday.

Pellet Fuels Institute |  [email protected]   | 206.209.5277
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