Sen. Bill Nelson files tax-relief bill to help victims of hurricanes
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed legislation on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, to provide some much needed tax relief to individuals and small businesses hit hardest by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
One of the groups Nelson’s bill seeks to help are Florida’s citrus growers who suffered devastating losses as a result of Hurricane Irma. In fact, some experts estimate that as much as 70 percent of Florida’s citrus crop was lost due to the storm, with some growers losing as much as 90 percent of their crop.
If approved, Nelson’s bill would, among other things, allow Florida’s growers to immediately deduct post-storm clean-up costs from their taxes, including the costs associated with removing and replanting downed trees.
“Florida’s citrus growers took a devastating hit from Hurricane Irma and we need to do everything we can to help this vital part of Florida’s economy,” Nelson said.
In addition to helping Florida’s citrus growers, Nelson’s bill would help provide some relief to people in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories by extending to them some popular tax breaks already offered to taxpayers living on the mainland – including the Child Tax Credit, which provides families a federal tax credit of up to $1,000 per child.
It would also allow individuals and businesses to create tax-free savings accounts to help cover expenses incurred during future disasters.
The legislation Nelson filed today now heads to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.
Below is a section-by-section summary of Nelson’s bill. The full text of Nelson’s legislation is available here.
NATIONAL DISASTER TAX RELIEF ACT
TITLE I—TAX RELIEF RELATING TO DISASTERS
Sec. 101. Allows for the immediate deduction of disaster cleanup expenses, including the cost of removing and replanting downed trees.
Sec. 102. Extends net operating loss carryback from two to three years for disaster losses.
Sec. 103. Provides an additional $500 million in New Markets Tax Credits per year for community development entities in disaster areas.
Sec. 104. Allows victims of a disaster to exclude non-business debt forgiveness from their gross income.
Sec. 105. Allows additional tax-exempt advance refunding of municipal bonds for recovery projects in disaster areas, with a cap of $2 billion for each state.
Sec. 106. Increases the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit allocation for states damaged by a disaster, based on the population of qualified disaster areas within the state, and allows disaster areas to retain applicable difficult development area designations for 2 years.
TITLE II—PERMANENT DISASTER TAX RELIEF PROVISIONS
Sec. 201. Excludes State and local government disaster mitigation payments from taxable income.
Sec. 202. Allows taxpayers to create tax-exempt catastrophe savings accounts to pay expenses related to a major disaster. The account balances are capped at (1) $75,000 (for individuals with homeowner insurance deductibles of not more than $1,000); and (2) $150,000 (for individuals with deductibles of more than $1,000). The accounts can also receive tax-free reimbursements from insurance companies.
TITLE III—OTHER PERMANENT TAX PROVISIONS
Sec. 301. Permanently extends the full cover over program for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, a portion of which expired in 2016. The cover over program provides a remittance to Puerto Rico and USVI for excise taxes on rum shipped to the mainland.
Sec. 302. Permanently extends the deduction for domestic manufacturing in Puerto Rico, which expired in 2016.
Sec. 303. Makes the Child Tax Credit available to families in U.S. territories—including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands—in the same way it is for mainland families.
TITLE IV – TREATMENT OF CERTAIN POSSESSIONS
Sec. 401. Allows U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories to benefit from some of the tax relief in the bill.