Burr Addresses Domestic Energy, Savings Accounts for the Disabled, and Education in Amendments to Tax Bill

July 22, 2015

WASHINGTON –Yesterday, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced several amendments to a bill before the Senate Finance Committee, including legislation that incentivizes cleaner fuel sources like Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), an improvement to the ABLE Act, and a provision that allows homeschoolers claim the Educator Expense Deduction. Senator Burr also joined Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to offer an amendment that updates the Educator Expense Deduction for current costs of living for teachers who buy educational materials for their students.

1)      Burr Amendment #1: To make modifications to the Alternative Fuels Tax Credit and Excise Tax for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)

  • This amendment offered by Burr modifies the federal highway excise tax for natural gas (LNG), putting it on equal footing with diesel fuel. The amendment would allow LNG to compete fairly with diesel by taxing LNG on an energy output basis rather than per gallon. The amendment would also remove the current tax disparity for propane (LPG).  This amendment was approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

Burr said: "America’s domestic energy markets have undergone a renaissance in the last decade, with opportunities opening up across the spectrum. My amendment will level the playing field and encourage more consumers and business owners to use products that best suit their needs – whether that’s  LNG, propane, or diesel. It also ensures that the United States continues to be a leader in energy and innovation. I will continue to work with my colleagues to get this passed by the full Senate."

2)      Burr Amendment #2: Improvement to the ABLE Act

  • The amendment eliminates the state residency requirement in the recently enacted Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which created the 529(A) ABLE accounts. 529(A) accounts are tax-preferred savings accounts akin to 529 college savings plans, but for individuals who became severely disabled prior to the age of 26. This would treat ABLE accounts just like traditional 529 accounts, which allow a student or family to have an account in any state rather than be limited to the state in which the student or family resides. This amendment is supported by a broad range of organizations, including American Foundation for the Blind, Autism Speaks, College Savings Foundation (CSF), Investment Company Institute (ICI), Lutheran Services in America Disability Network, National Disability Institute (NDI), National Down Syndrome Congress, National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), SIFMA, The Arc, and The Jewish Federations of North America.  You can read their letter of support here.

Burr said: “ABLE accounts were created to empower disabled individuals and their families to save for their future care. This change will help get these important accounts off the ground so families can start saving for their disabled child’s future.”


Senator Burr Discusses ABLE Act Fix in Finance Committee Mark-Up

3)      Burr Amendment #3: Extends Eligibility for the Educator Expense Deduction to Parents who Homeschool Children

  • This amendment would extend the Educator Expense Deduction to individuals who homeschool their children. Currently, public and private school teachers can claim a deduction on their tax return for up to $250 for the cost of classroom supplies.  Under the Burr amendment, parents who homeschool their kids could get the same deduction.

Burr said: “This extension would ensure that families who educate their children at home also get to take advantage of the same tax deduction that teachers in public and private schools already get. Homeschooling is an important option for parents when they consider their children’s education, and I am proud of the homeschool community we have in North Carolina.”

4)      Bennet-Burr Amendment: Updates the Educator Expense Deduction

  • The Bennet-Burr amendment would allow the $250 Educator Expense Deduction to rise with inflation.  Teachers open their pocketbooks and wallets to buy classroom items all with their student’s academic achievement at heart – this provision of the tax code allows them to do so with a break on the taxes they pay to Uncle Sam.  This provision of the tax code has not been updated since 2002 and still reflects its nominal value, weakening its usefulness to teachers. The Bennet-Burr amendment was approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

Burr said: “Teachers and principals who use their personal funds to pay for classroom expenses for their students benefit from this tax provision.  I’m pleased Senator Bennet and I could work together to make sure that teachers can get the full value of this deduction.”