INTRODUCTION OF THE TAX RELIEF FOR TRANSPORTATION WORKERS ACT -- (Extensions of Remarks - February 13, 2009)
* Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, I rise to introduce the Tax Relief for Transportation Workers Act. This legislation helps those who work in the port industry cope with the costs of complying with Congress's mandate that all those working on a port obtain a Transportation Worker Identity Card, TWIC. The Tax Relief for Transportation Workers Act provides a tax credit to workers who pay the costs of obtaining TWICs. The credit is refundable against both income and payroll tax liabilities.
* When Congress created the TWIC requirement, it placed the burden of paying the cost of obtaining the card on individual workers. Imposing the costs of obtaining TWICs on port workers has several negative economic impacts that Congress should help mitigate by making the cost associated with obtaining a TWIC tax deductible. According to the Department of Homeland Security, a port worker will have to pay between $100 and $132 to obtain a card. The worker will also have to pay a $60 fee for every card that is lost or damaged. Even those employers whose employers pay the substantial costs of obtaining TWICs for their workforce are adversely affected by the TWIC requirement, as the money employers pay for TWICs is money that cannot go into increasing their workers' salaries. The costs of the TWIC requirement may also cause some employers to refrain from hiring new employees.
* Ironically, many of the employees whose employers are unable to pay the TWIC are part-time or temporary workers at the lower end of the income scale. Obviously, the TWIC requirement hits these workers the hardest. According to Recana, an employer of port workers in my district, the fee will have a ``significant impact'' on port workers.
* Unless Congress acts to relieve some of the economic burden the TWIC requirement places on those who work in the port industry, the damage done could reach beyond the port employers and employees to harm businesses that depend on a strong American port industry. This could be very harmful to both interstate and international trade.
* Regardless of what one thinks of the merits of the TWIC card, it is simply not right for Congress to make the port industry bear all the costs of TWIC. I therefore urge my colleagues to stand up for those who perform vital tasks at America's ports by cosponsoring the Tax Relief for Transportation Workers Act.