September 29, 2020

Volume X, Number 273

September 29, 2020

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September 28, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Air and Water Pollution Control Facility Tax Exemptions: Don't Leave Money on the Table!

With the economy improving, Maine has experienced a spurt of new or expanded commercial and industrial developments. We are reminding the developers and owners of these projects that Maine law provides an opportunity to obtain tax exemptions for air and water pollution control facilities that often are integral parts of these developments. These exemptions can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings over many years and an improved bottom line for businesses. In appropriate circumstances, there also may be opportunities to obtain refunds for state sales and use taxes previously paid for pollution control facilities.

Title 36 MRS sections 1760, 655, and 656 provide tax exemptions for air and water pollution control facilities certified by the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. The exemptions are from Maine sales and use tax, and, where applicable, from property tax. Anyone seeking such an exemption must apply to the Commissioner. Importantly, in order to qualify for these exemptions, the primary purpose of the “system or . . . treatment works, appliance, equipment, machinery, installation or structures installed, acquired, or placed in operation” must be to reduce, control, or eliminate (a) air pollutants, or (b) water pollution caused by industrial or other waste. Providing credible and well documented evidence to the DEP on the primary purpose of the facility for which certification is sought is critical to a successful outcome.  Among the types of facilities that have received certification, and the resulting tax exemption, are:

Air Pollution Control Water Pollution Control
Fuel conveyor covers Oil-water separators
Ash conveyor covers Sludge dewatering systems
SoLo NOx technology Erosion control and storm water systems
Low NOx burners Sedimentation basins
Dust collection equipment Landfill liners and leachate collection systems
Ammonia injection systems Oil spill equipment
Ash handling and containment Spray irrigation systems
Reagent costs Ash storage bunkers
Lime kiln scrubbers Outfall diffusers
Electrostatic precipitators Primary and secondary wastewater systems
Baghouses Waste acid neutralization
©2020 Pierce Atwood LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 306


About this Author

Jonathan Block tax lawyer Pierce Atwood Law Firm

Jon Block represents and advises clients with Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts tax problems. Jon litigates tax cases at the administrative level and through all levels of the court system, advises clients on transactional and multistate tax issues, obtains advance rulings for clients, and does a substantial amount of legislative and government relations work in the tax area. Jon's substantive expertise in state and local tax encompasses corporate and individual income tax, business profits tax, sales and use tax, property tax, excise tax, transfer tax, and other state and local...

(207) 791-1173
Tom Doyle, Environmental Attorney, Land Use Lawyer, Northeast, Pierce Atwood Law Firm
Partner (Retired)

Tom Doyle retired as a partner in Pierce Atwood's Environmental & Land Use Practice Group with more than 30 years of experience in all areas of environmental and land use law, including adjudicatory proceedings, transactions, permitting, client counseling, enforcement defense, brownfield redevelopment, and legislation. Tom's practice has frequently involved the successful permitting of major development projects that face opposition or complex environmental and land use issues. His transactional experience has included serving as lead environmental counsel in public offerings, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, site divisions, and project financings. He also has long advised the forest products industry on a variety of strategic environmental, natural resource, land use, and policy issues.

Tom retired in 2019.

Honors & Distinctions

  • Recognized as a leading environmental attorney by Chambers USA
  • Included since 1995 in The Best Lawyers in America® in Environmental Law
  • Named The Best Lawyers in America® 2014 “Lawyer of the Year” in Environmental Law in Portland, Maine
  • Received James River Corporation's Bronze Key Award for Environmental Achievement
  • Achieved the highest professional rating, AV® Preeminent™ awarded by Martindale-Hubbell

Professional Activities

  • Vice-chair, American Bar Association's Environmental Transactions and Brownfields Committee, 2004-present
  • Member, Maine State Bar Association, 1982-present (Chair, Natural Resources and Environmental Law Section, 2013)
  • Twice served on Governor or legislatively appointed committees to study revisions to Maine's Site Location of Development Law
  • Served on Maine Department of Environmental Protection and State Planning Office-appointed committees to review Maine's solid waste laws


  • Doyle, Thomas. Maine's Site Location, Storm Water, and Traffic Permitting Laws. Environmental Law in Maine seminar, 2017.
  • Doyle, Thomas. Solid Waste Regulations and Recent Developments. Environmental Law in Maine seminar, 2017.
  • Doyle, Thomas. Co-author of A Practical Guide to Land Use in Maine, MCLE New England (2016-2018).
  • Day, Avery T.; Doyle, Thomas R.; Manahan, Matthew D.  About face: How a mine moved toward opening in Maine, Mining Engineering (2012).

Civic Activities

  • Treasurer, Yale Club of Western Maine, 2007-present
  • Treasurer and Board member, Falmouth Little League, 1998-2003
(207) 791-1214
Dixon Pike Environmental Lawyer Pierce Atwood Law Firm

Dixon Pike has been with the firm's Environmental Practice Group since 1987 and has extensive experience assisting clients with environmental permitting, compliance, and enforcement issues with particular focus on state and federal air laws, pollution prevention initiatives, and toxics reduction requirements.  Dixon has long been included as a leading environmental attorney by Chambers USA and The Best Lawyers in America®, and was honored as Best Lawyers’ Portland, Maine Environmental "Lawyer of the Year" in 2018 and 2012, the inaugural edition...

(207) 791-1374