40 CFR Appendix A to Part 20 - Guidelines for Certification
1. General. Section 2112 of the Tax Reform Act of 1976 (Pub. L. 94-455, October 4, 1976) amended section 169 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, “Amortization of Pollution Control Facilities.” The amendment made permanent the rapid amortization provisions of section 704 of the Tax Reform Act of 1969 (Pub. L. 91-172, December 30, 1969) and redefined eligibility limits to allow certification of facilities which prevent the creation or emission of pollutants.
The law defines a certified pollution control facility as a new identifiable treatment facility which is:
(a) Used in connection with a plant or other property in operation before January 1, 1976, to abate or control air or water pollution by removing, altering, disposing of, storing, or preventing the creation or emission of pollutants, contaminants, wastes, or heat;
(b) Constructed, reconstructed, erected or (if purchased) first placed in service by the taxpayer after December 31, 1975;
(c) Not to significantly increase the output or capacity, extend the useful life, alter the nature of the manufacturing or production process or facility or reduce the total operating costs of the operating unit of the plant or other property most directly associated with the pollution control facility (as suggested by the legislative history, EPA regulations define the term significant as any increase, reduction or extension greater than 5%); and
(d) Certified by both State and Federal authorities, as provided in section 169(d)(1) (A) and (B) of the Internal Revenue Code.
If the facility is a building, the statute requires that it be exclusively devoted to pollution control. Most questions as to whether a facility is a building and, if so, whether it is exclusively devoted to pollution control are resolved by § 1.169-2(b)(2) of the Treasury Department regulations.
Since a treatment facility is eligible only if it furthers the general policies of the United States under the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, a facility will be certified only if its purpose is to improve the quality of the air or water outside the plant. Facilities to protect the health or safety of employees inside the plant are not eligible.
Facilities installed before January 1, 1976, in plants placed in operation after December 31, 1968, are ineligible for certification under the statute. 26 U.S.C. 169.
2. Air pollution control facilities.
a. Pollution control or treatment facilities normally eligible for certification. The following devices are illustrative of facilities for removal, alteration, disposal, storage or preventing the creation or emission of air pollution:
(1) Inertial separators (cyclones, etc.).
(2) Wet collection devices (scrubbers).
(3) Electrostatic precipitators.
(4) Cloth filter collectors (baghouses).
(5) Director fired afterburners.
(6) Catalytic afterburners.
(7) Gas absorption equipment.
(8) Vapor condensers.
(9) Vapor recovery systems.
(10) Floating roofs for storage tanks.
(11) Fuel cleaning equipment.
(12) Combinations of the above.
Air Pollution control facility boundaries. Most facilities are systems consisting of several parts. A facility need not start at the point where the gaseous effluent leaves the last unit of the processing equipment, nor will it always extend to the point where the effluent is emitted to the atmosphere or existing stack, breeching, ductwork or vent. It includes all the auxiliary equipment used to operate the control system, such as fans, blowers, ductwork, valves, dampers and electrical equipment. It also includes all equipment used to handle, store, transport or dispose of the collected pollutants.
Examples of eligibility limits. The amortization deduction is limited to new identifiable treatment facilities which remove, alter, destroy, dispose of, store, or prevent the creation or emission of pollutants, contaminants or wastes. It is not available for all expenditures for air pollution control and is limited to devices which are installed for the purpose of pollution control and which actually remove, alter, destroy, dispose of, store or prevent the creation or emission of pollutants by removing potential pollutants at any stage of the production process.
(1) Boiler modifications or replacements. Modifications of boilers to accommodate cleaner fuels are not eligible for rapid amortization: e.g., removal of stokers from a coal-fired boiler and the addition of gas or oil burners. The purpose of the burners is to produce heat, and they are not identifiable as treatment facilities nor do they prevent the creation or emission of pollutants by removing potential pollutants. A new gas or oil-fired boiler that replaces a coal-fired boiler would also be ineligible for certification.
(2) Fuel processing. Eligible air pollution control facilities include preprocessing equipment which removes potential air pollutants from fuels before they are burned. A desulfurization facility would thus be eligible provided it is used in connection with the plant where the desulfurized coal will be burned or is used as a centralized facility for one or more plants. However, fluidized bed facilities would generally not be eligible for rapid amortization. Such facilities would almost certainly increase output or capacity, reduce total operating costs, or extend the useful life of the plant or other property by more than 5%, since the boiler itself would be the operating unit of the plant most closely associated with the pollution control facility. Where the Regional Office and the taxpayer disagree as to the applicability of the 5% rule, the Regional office should nonetheless certify the facility if it is otherwise eligible and leave the ultimate determination to the Treasury Department. The certification should alert Treasury to the possibility that the facility is ineligible for rapid amortization.
(3) Incinerators. The addition of an afterburner, secondary combustion chamber or particulate collector would be eligible as would any device added to effect more efficient combustion.
(4) Collection devices used to collect products or process material. In some manufacturing operations, devices are used to collect product or process material, as in the case of the manufacture of carbon black. The baghouse would be eligible for certification, but the certification should notify the Treasury Department of the profitable waste recovery involved. (See paragraph 8 below.)
(5) Intermittent control systems. Measuring devices which inform the taxpayer that ambient air quality standards are being exceeded are not eligible for certification since they do not physically remove, alter, destroy, dispose of, store or prevent the creation or emission of pollutants, but merely act as a signal to curtail operations. Of course, measuring devices used in connection with an eligible pollution control facility would be eligible.
d. Replacement of manufacturing process by another, nonpolluting process. An installation does not qualify for certification where it uses a process known to be cleaner than an alternative, but which does not actually remove, alter, destroy, dispose of, store or prevent the creation or emission of pollutants by removing potential pollutants at any stage in the production process. For example, a minimally polluting electric induction furnace to melt cast iron which replaces, or is installed instead of, a heavily polluting iron cupola furnace would be ineligible for this reason and because it is not an identifiable treatment facility. However, if the replacement equipment has an air pollution control device added to it, the control device would be eligible even though the process equipment would not. For example, where a primary copper smelting reverberatory furnace is replaced by a flash smelting furnace, followed by the installation of a contact sulfuric acid plant, the acid plant would qualify since it is a control device not necessary to the production process. The flash smelting furnace would not qualify because its purpose is to produce copper matte.
3. Water Pollution Control Facilities.
a. Pollution control or treatment facilities normally eligible for certification. The following types of equipment are illustrative of facilities to remove, alter, destroy, store or prevent the creation of water pollution:
Pretreatment facilities which neutralize or stabilize industrial or sanitary wastes, or both, from a point immediately preceding the point of such treatment to the point of disposal to, and acceptance by, a publicly-owned treatment works. The necessary pumping and transmitting facilities are also eligible.
Treatment facilities which neutralize or stabilize industrial or sanitary wastes, or both, to comply with Federal, State or local effluent or water quality standards, from a point immediately preceding the point of such treatment to the point of disposal, including necessary pumping and transmitting facilities, including those for recycle or segregation of wastewater.
Ancillary devices and facilities such as lagoons, ponds and structures for storage, recycle, segregation or treatment, or any combination of these, of wastewaters or wastes from a plant or other property.
Devices, equipment or facilities constructed or installed for the primary purpose of recovering a by-product of the operation (saleable or otherwise) previously lost either to the atmosphere or to the waste effluent. Examples are:
(A) A facility to concentrate and recover vaporous by-products from a process stream for reuse as raw feedstock or for resale, unless the estimated profits from resale exceed the cost of the facility (see paragraph 8 below).
(B) A facility to concentrate or remove gunk or similar tars or polymerized tar-like materials from the process waste effluent previously discharged in the plant effluents. Removal may occur at any stage of the production process.
(C) A device used to extract or remove insoluble constitutents from a solid or liquid by use of a selective solvent; an open or closed tank or vessel in which such extraction or removal occurs; a diffusion battery of tanks or vessels for countercurrent decantation, extraction, or leaching, etc.
(D) A skimmer or similar device for removing grease, oils and fat-like materials from the process or effluent stream.
Examples of eligibility limits.
(1) In-plant process changes which may result in the reduction or elimination of pollution but which do not themselves remove, alter, destroy, dispose of, store or prevent the creation of pollutants by removing potential pollutants at some point in the process stream are not eligible for certification.
(2) A device, piece of equipment or facility is not eligible if it is associated with or included in a stream for subsurface injection of untreated or inadequately treated industrial or sanitary waste.
4. Multiple-purpose facilities. A facility can qualify for rapid amortization if it serves a function other than the abatement of pollution (unless it is a building). Otherwise, the effect might be to discourage installation of sensible pollution abatement facilities in favor of less efficient single-function facilities.
The regulations require applicants to state what percentage of the cost of a facility is properly allocable to its abatement function and to justify the allocation. The Regional Office will review these allocations, and the certification will inform the Treasury Department if the allocation appears to be incorrect. Although not generally necessary or desireable, site inspections may be appropriate in cases involving large sums of money or unusual types of equipment.
5. Facilities serving both old and new plants. The statute provides that pollution control facilities must be used in connection with a plant or other property in operation before January 1, 1976. When a facility is used in connection with both pre-1976 and newer property, it may qualify for rapid amortization to the extent it is used in connection with pre-1976 property.
Again, the applicant will submit a theory of allocation for review by the Regional Office. The usual method of allocation is to compare the effluent capacity of the pre-1976 plant to the treatment capacity of the control facility. For example, if the old plant has a capacity of 80 units of effluent (but an average output of 60 units), the new plant has a capacity of 40 units (but an average output of 20 units), and the control facility has a capacity of 150 units, then 80/150 of the cost of the control facility would be eligible for rapid amortization.
If a taxpayer presents a seemingly reasonable method of allocation different from the foregoing, Regional Office personnel should consult with the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards or the Office of Water Planning and Standards, and with the Office of General Counsel.
6. State certification. To qualify for rapid amortization under section 169, a facility must first be certified by the State as having been installed “in conformity with the State program or requirements for abatement or control of water or atmospheric pollution or contamination.” Significantly, the statute does not say that the State must require that a facility be installed. If use of a facility will not actually contravene a State requirement, the State may certify. However, since State certification is a prerequisite to EPA certification, EPA may not certify if the State has denied certification for whatever reason.
It should be noted that certification of a facility does not constitute the personal warranty of the certifying official that the conditions of the statute have been met. EPA certification is binding on the Government only to the extent the submitted facts are accurate and complete.
7. Dispersal of pollutants. Section 169 applies to facilities which remove, alter, destroy, dispose of, store or prevent the creation or emission of pollutants - including heat. Facilities which merely disperse pollutants (such as tall stacks) do not qualify. However, there is no way to dispose of heat other than by transferring B.t.u.'s to the environment. A cooling tower is therefore eligible for certification provided it is used in connection with a pre-1976 plant. A cooling pond or an addition to an outfall structure which results in a decrease in the amount by which the temperature of the receiving water is raised and which meets applicable State standards is likewise eligible.
8. Profit-making facilities. The statute denies rapid amortization where the cost of pollution control facilities will be recovered from profits derived through the recovery or wastes or otherwise.
If a facility recovers marketable wastes, estimated profits on which are not sufficient to recover the entire cost of the facility, the amortization basis of the facility will be reduced in accordance with Treasury Department regulations. The responsibility of the Regional Offices is merely to identify for the Treasury Department those cases in which estimated profits will arise. The Treasury Department will determine the amount of such profits and the extent to which they can be expected to result in cost recovery, but the EPA certification should inform the Treasury whether cost recovery is possible.
The phrase or otherwise also includes situations where the taxpayer is in the business of renting the facility for a fee or charging for the treatment of waste. In such cases, the facility may theoretically qualify for EPA certification. The decision as to the extent of its profitability is for the Treasury Department. Situations may also arise where use of a facility is furnished at no additional charge to a number of users, or to the public, as part of a package of other services. In such cases, no profits will be deemed to arise from operation of the facility unless the other services included in the package are merely ancillary to use of the facility. Of course, the cost recovery provision does not apply where a taxpayer merely recovers the cost of a facility through general revenues; otherwise no profitable firm would ever be eligible for rapid amortization.
It should be noted that § 20.9 of the EPA regulation is not meant to affect general principles of Federal income tax law. An individual other than the title holder of a piece of property may be entitled to take depreciation deductions on it if the arrangements by which such individual has use of the property may, for all practical purposes, be viewed as a purchase. In any such case, the facility could qualify for full rapid amortization, notwithstanding the fact that the title holder charges a separate fee for the use of the facility, so long as the taxpayer - in such a case, the user - does not charge a separate fee for use of the facility.
9. Multiple applications. Under EPA regulations, a multiple application may be submitted by a taxpayer who applies for certification of substantially identical pollution abatement facilities used in connection with substantially identical properties. It is not contemplated that the multiple application option will be used with respect to facilities in different States, since each such facility would require a separate application for certification to the State involved. EPA regulations also permit an applicant to incorporate by reference in an application material contained in an application previously filed. The purpose of this provision is to avoid the burden of furnishing detailed information (which may in some cases include portions of catalogs or process flow diagrams) which the certifying official has previously received. Accordingly, material filed with a Regional Office of EPA may be incorporated by reference only in an application subsequently filed with the same Regional Office.