By Casey Junkins
December 4, 2017 - Murray Energy Corp. Chairman, President and CEO Robert Murray said the U.S. Senate’s version of the federal tax reform bill will increase his company’s taxes by $60 million per year.
“Undoubtedly, the Senate’s so-called tax reform will cause even more coal companies to file for bankruptcy and more coal mining families to lose their jobs, health care, and retirement security. We cannot afford another blow to our coal jobs and retiree programs, as has been perpetrated in the Senate’s version of tax reform,” Murray said.
Murray operates several coal mines throughout the U.S., including:
∫ the Century Mine near Beallsville,
∫ the Ohio County Mine near Benwood,
∫ the Marshall County Mine near Cameron,
∫ the Monongalia County Mine near Blacksville, W.Va.,
∫ the Harrison County Mine near Clarksburg, W.Va., and
∫ the Marion County Mine near Mannington, W.Va.
Late Friday, in a largely party-line 51-49 vote, the Republican-controlled Senate passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, voted for the legislation, while Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, opposed it.
Murray, who staunchly supported the election of President Donald Trump last year, said the Republican-controlled Senate is not addressing the president’s stated priorities. Murray said his main problem with the legislation is that it does not repeal the corporate alternative minimum tax on American employers.
“Instead of following the leadership of President Trump in tax reform, the Senate has allowed the corporate alternative minimum tax to remain in effect, all in a crass effort to gain the votes of certain ineffective and befuddled U.S. senators, who apparently do not care about the tax burden that is closing American companies,” Murray said.
“This tax hike will have far-reaching implications, further devastating coal communities and hampering our ability to provide for the health care and pension obligations for our coal mining families and retirees,” he added.
Because the House of Representatives passed a somewhat different version of the tax cut bill, it will now be up for negotiations by a House-Senate conference committee. Murray said the House bill would repeal the AMT.
“For companies, like Murray Energy, which qualifies as an AMT payer, this legislation is much worse than the status quo. Our company will see a significant tax increase resulting primarily from the loss of the business interest expense deduction,” he added.
While Murray opposes the legislation, officials in the city of Wheeling also oppose it because it may lead cancel the Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Leaders said this helped the city attract employers such as Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Williams Lea Tag because developers used the 20 percent federal credit to rehabilitate the former Wheeling Stamping Co. structure to house Orrick, in addition to the historic Stone & Thomas department store to include Williams Lea.