ATR President Grover Norquist wrote in opposition to retroactive changes to the Alternative Fuels Mixture Credit in a letter to members of the Senate Finance Committee. 

ATR supports efforts to repeal or make all extenders permanent as part of a broader goal to lower tax rates across the board. When extenders are repealed or made permanent, it creates certainty for taxpayers and businesses.

ATR also believes that extenders should be dealt with prospectively instead of retroactively, because law-abiding taxpayers should not be penalized for following the law based on reasonable statutory interpretations.

[Read the Full Letter Here]

Based on these two principles, ATR opposes retroactively changing the Alternative Fuels Mixture Credit as proposed in The Tax Extender and Disaster Relief Act of 2019 (S. 617). As the letter notes:

“…this legislation retroactively disallows taxpayers blending butane with gasoline from claiming the AFMC. This is bad policy that interferes with ongoing litigation, denies taxpayers due process, and creates potentially arbitrary and unfair outcomes. ATR opposes this change and urges Congress to instead consider changes to the AFMC prospectively.”

Prior to the AFMC’s expiration on December 31, 2017, several taxpayers claimed the credit for blending butane with alternative fuels, and the IRS has denied these claims. Retroactively changing the AFMC to disallow these claims is bad tax policy. As the letter explains:

“Tax policy is based on consistency, certainty, and fairness. Taxpayers routinely make decisions based on a reasonable interpretation of the law with the expectation that the future changes to the law will not be applied looking backwards.

Retroactively changing the tax code punishes taxpayers based on activity that has already occurred.

Legislation that retroactively changes the AFMC would violate this principle by affecting claims from past tax years.

This would also set the precedent that Congress can disallow taxpayers from claiming other provisions in the future and undermines confidence in the tax system.”

AFMC claims by taxpayers that blended butane with traditional fuels are currently being adjudicated in court. By retroactively disqualifying taxpayer AFMC claims, Congress would interfere with ongoing litigation. If Congress disagrees with the outcome of the litigation, it should change the law on a prospective basis.

Instead of interfering with ongoing litigation and retroactively disallowing tax credits to law-abiding taxpayers, Congress should modify the credit prospectively if lawmakers take issue with butane qualifying for the AFMC. Read the full letter here.