November 18, 2021

Infrastructure Act: Key Investments in Infrastructure, Clean Energy and Rural Broadband Funded by Limited Tax Provisions

Monday, President Biden signed the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (the "Infrastructure Act") into law. The bill, H.R. 3684, originally introduced into the House on June 4, was sent to the President's desk after the House approved the Senate's changes by a 228–206 vote on November 5. Vermont should benefit from the Infrastructure Act through investments in roads and bridges, public drinking water infrastructure, low-carbon public transportation, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and rural broadband projects. 

The main impetus for the Infrastructure Act is to provide money for infrastructure projects around the country, such as repairing bridges and construction of new rail lines. Some of the larger line items include: $73 billion for updates to the electricity grid for distribution of renewable energy, $66 billion for Amtrak maintenance projects and new rail lines, $65 billion for rural broadband projects, $47 billion for climate resiliency projects and combating wildfires, $21 billion for clean up polluted sites under watch by the EPA, $15 billion for removal of lead water pipes, $7.5 billion for construction of electric vehicle charging stations, and $2 billion for rural transportation projects. 

Funding for rural broadband projects, certain carbon capture projects, and highway and freight transfer facilities will be promoted through public-private partnerships involving private activity tax-exempt bonds. Tax-exempt bonds are debt obligations of a state or political subdivision the interest on which is exempt from federal income taxation. Notably, the Act establishes a new kind of tax-exempt bond for “qualified broadband projects,” which are projects that provide high-speed internet access meeting certain download and upload speed criteria and which are designed to provide broadband service to historically under-served areas. Underserved rural areas should receive significant benefits from these projects. 

There are few tax provisions in the Act which are designed to raise revenue. The most important of these are (1) certain information reporting requirements for brokers of digital assets (including cryptocurrency), (2) the extension of certain Superfund excise taxes through December 31, 2031 and the modification the amount of tax applicable to certain chemicals, and (3) the termination of the employee retention tax credit ("ERTC") as of October 1, 2021. The Joint Committee on Taxation (August 2, 2021) estimated that, over a 10-year period, the digital asset reporting requirements will raise nearly $30 trillion, the Superfund provisions will raise $14.5 trillion, and the termination of the ERTC will raise $8.2 trillion.


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