Politics & Government

Gulf lawmakers push tax breaks for businesses hurt by spill

BILOXI, Miss. — U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker said he and five other Gulf Coast lawmakers are continuing to push for several tax incentives for victims of the oil gusher.

Wicker is leading the effort with Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and they're joined by Mississippi Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and other Gulf Coast lawmakers in backing legislation for businesses and victims of the spill.

Their proposal extends the "net operating loss carryback" period to five years for business losses caused by the gusher.

The plan would allow owners of fishing and other tourism-related ventures to amend their tax returns from the past five years, and to receive a refund for some taxes already paid.

It would also give tax credits to businesses that hire Gulf Coast workers displaced by the spill, and put in place a temporary program to reimburse states for revenue losses if they adopt a hotel- or car-rental-tax holiday, among other provisions.

Wicker said Thursday he was optimistic about the bill's prospects, and he and other lawmakers are beginning a hard push to get it passed.

"The majority of House and Senate members all over the country ought to be willing to vote for and expedite it," Wicker said Thursday. "It is a bipartisan bill that is very much needed. We're hoping to fast-track it."

Cochran and Wicker also recently announced $5 million has been earmarked for an emergency grant for Mississippi through the Department of Labor to provide employment assistance for workers laid off because of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

Wicker said Thursday he was encouraged after meeting with Labor Department officials, who said much progress was being made on getting the emergency money released to Mississippi.

"We're eager to get that money down here," Wicker said.

Complete coverage of the oil spill at SunHerald.com