At a time when Congress cannot agree on much, Rep. Tom Reed has introduced and garnered support for something significantly important for our region in particular and the country generally: a national disaster tax relief bill.
One of the primary functions of government is to protect its citizens, and this is especially true in the wake of a natural disaster. In the past, Congress has routinely provided tax relief to communities after a natural disaster; it did so after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and again in 2008 to assist the Midwestern states struck by severe drought as well as regions affected by Hurricane Ike. Yet despite this clear legislative history, Congress has failed to provide similar assistance to the dozens of communities, including ours, hit by presidentially declared disasters over the past several years, despite the demonstrated continued need.
Rep. Reed, working across the aisle with Sen. Charles Schumer and in partnership with the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, has introduced legislation that would help individuals, small business and housing recover in our state from the devastating floods this spring, as well as damage sustained from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. The bill waives
the high threshold for individuals to claim losses to their personal property, such as damage to their homes and cars, from these natural disasters. It allows increased expensing and bonus depreciation for businesses in disaster-affected regions, allowing them to make repairs, restock lost inventory and reinvest in their communities. Additionally, it allows states to issue disaster recovery bonds to finance rebuilding in a public/private partnership at a fraction of the cost of traditional recovery programs. Finally, it provides bonus allocations of New Markets Tax Credits and Low Income Housing Tax Credits to spur economic development and help rebuild affordable housing that was damaged or destroyed.
His bill has 38 co-sponsors equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. That’s no small feat in this deeply divided Congress and is a reflection of the kind of leadership and tenacity Tom Reed brings to the job. I hope the leadership in both the House and the Senate will take up this important bill this year and pass this legislation, which holds the promise of speeding recovery for millions of American families that were hurt through no fault of their own.
Timothy D. Fournier
President and CEO Conifer Realty LLC