Allen introduces legislation for refundable tax credits for heating fuels and low-interest federal weatherization loans

U.S. Rep. Tom Allen photo by Ramona du Houx


U.S. Representatives Tom Allen (D-ME) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) announced on July 30, 2008, that they have introduced H.R. 6605, The Home Heating Fuels Cost Relief Act of 2008. This legislation creates a $1,000 ($2,000 for couples filing jointly) refundable tax credit for heating fuels and establishes a grant program for states to provide up to $5,000 ($10,000 per household) in low-interest home weatherization loans.

"Everywhere I go in Maine, families tell me that they expect their home heating bills to double in the winter ahead and that finding a way to pay for fuel and soaring costs for food and other necessities is busting their budgets," said Representative Allen. "Our legislation provides families with immediate relief through a refundable tax credit and assistance to make their homes more energy efficient through low-interest weatherization loans that won’t saddle them with heavy debt. These steps will make it possible for tens of thousands of Maine families and millions across America to stay warm this winter without having to choose between fuel and groceries."

H.R. 6605 establishes the refundable tax credit and weatherization loan program for two years while Congress works to enact comprehensive, long-range policies to assure affordable energy for America’s families and businesses. The weatherization loans would be offered at a one percent interest rate for individuals earning $100,000 per year (two percent for those earning between $100,000 and $200,000) over five years.

"Maine families have paid dearly for the Bush administration’s disastrous economic and energy policies and the efforts of the president’s allies in Congress to block change for the past seven years," said Allen. "Families and small businesses in Maine and across America work hard for the money they spend on food and fuel. They crave leadership that will reverse the disastrous energy and economic policies of the last seven years and put government on the side of families and small business for a change."

Allen noted that the new Congress elected in 2006 has taken important steps to provide relief to middle class families and small businesses. He pointed to passage earlier this year of the economic stimulus legislation and more recently of the Close the Enron Loophole Act, legislation passed as part of the Farm Bill to hold oil speculators accountable to the same rules that already govern on-market traders.

"We can and must do more," said Allen. "We need action on several fronts to address both short- and long-term challenges. That’s why I introduced the Small Business Fuel Cost Relief Act to provide a tax credit businesses can claim on the amount they spend on fuel over the price on Labor Day 2004, adjusted for inflation. My bill, which I reintroduced in this Congress, also increases to 60 cents the IRS Standard Mileage Rate for business owners who use their vehicles for business purposes. I also introduced the Middle Class Opportunity Act, legislation to expand tax breaks to families for children, care of parents and grandparents, and education."

Representative Allen cited statistics showing that since January 2001 the price for a gallon of whole milk has risen from $2.36 to $3.63 (a 54 percent increase) and a dozen eggs from $1.01 to $2.07 (a 105 percent increase). He tied the price increases in part to rising fuel costs. Over the last seven years, unleaded gasoline has jumped from $1.54 to $4.05 per gallon.

"These have been boom years for one segment of the economy," said the congressman. "Since January 2001, crude oil has risen from between $23 and $25 per barrel to over $140."