GGD-97-41 Tax Policy: Effects of the Alcohol Fuels Tax Incentives

GGD-97-41 Tax Policy: Effects of the Alcohol Fuels Tax Incentives

64 Pages · 1997 · 181 KB · English

United States General Accounting Office GAO Report to the Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives March 1997 TAX POLICY Effects of the Alcohol

GGD-97-41 Tax Policy: Effects of the Alcohol Fuels Tax Incentives free download

United States General Accounting Office GAO Report to the Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives March 1997 TAX POLICY Effects of the Alcohol Fuels Tax Incentives GAO/GGD-97-41 GAO United States General Accounting Office Washington, D.C. 20548 General Government Division B-271977 March 6, 1997 The Honorable Bill Archer Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means House of Representatives Dear Mr. Chairman: In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Congress enacted tax incentives for biomass-derived alcohol fuels. 1 Proponents maintained that the incentives would reduce U.S. dependence on petroleum imports and provide an additional market for U.S. agricultural products. Subsequent environmental legislation has increased the demand for alcohol fuels. These alcohol fuels currently are blended with gasoline to increase its oxygen content in certain areas of the country that have mandatory minimum oxygen requirements for transportation fuel. 2 In recent months, Congress has debated the need for continuing to provide tax incentives for alcohol fuels. In this context, you asked the following questions relating to tax incentives for alcohol fuels, which we address in this report: ¸ Whom do the incentives benefit and disadvantage economically? ¸ What environmental benefits, if any, have the incentives produced? ¸ Have the incentives increased the nation's energy independence? ¸ To what extent has the partial exemption from the excise tax for alcohol fuels reduced the flow of revenue into the Highway Trust Fund? Background In the 1970s and 1980s, the federal government adopted numerous policies to encourage the use of alternatives to imported fossil fuels. 3 Among these policies were tax incentives that were specifically targeted at the use of alcohol fuels derived from biomass materials. Supporters claimed that the tax incentives would not only reduce U.S. reliance on imported petroleum but would also help support farm incomes by finding another market for the agricultural products from which alcohol can be produced, such as corn. In the late 1980s, Congress' attention turned to the possible benefits of using alcohol fuels as additives to fossil-based fuels to reduce urban air 1Biomass-derived alcohol fuels are chemical compounds made from nonfossil material of biological origin and constitute a renewable energy source. 2Ethanol, which is

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