- Associated Press - Saturday, May 14, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska House of Representatives has approved legislation that would phase out most existing oil and gas tax credits.

The amended proposal is expected to save between $5 million and $25 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1 and increasing to as much as $470 million of savings in fiscal year 2021. The House on Friday approved a modified version of the bill after a 25-12 vote, The Juneau Empire reported (https://bit.ly/1TCUjk7).

“We were able to get to that common place where we could agree,” said Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, one of the bill’s two Republican sponsors. “Everybody was a little bit out of their comfort zone, but it was, you know, a compromise.”

The new bill replaces Gov. Bill Walker’s original version, which promised savings as high as $305 million in the next fiscal year, with savings rising to as much as $515 million in fiscal year 2019. The rules committee’s version promised savings of up to $10 million in the next fiscal year, rising to $370 million by fiscal year 2022.

The proposal by Seaton and Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, would stop companies producing more than 15,000 barrels of oil per day from collecting net operating loss credits, which allow producers to reduce their effective production tax rate to zero. Net operating loss credits are designed to help companies just starting operations, but because oil prices are so low, major North Slope oil producers are losing money, making them eligible.

Under the Wilson-Seaton proposal, oil companies would be encouraged to sell their outstanding credits for cash, something they might need as oil prices stay low.

The proposal would also reorganize the tax structure for Cook Inlet drilling operations by 2019 when limits on oil and gas taxes in the region expire.

The Senate is scheduled to hear the amended bill Saturday.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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