In response to the devastation caused by severe weather that destroyed towns and killed hundreds of people throughout the nation, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), today cosponsored the Southeastern Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2011 offered by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). Under this legislation, individuals affected by natural disasters will be permitted to make early withdrawals from their tax preferred retirement plans without having to pay penalties, small businesses will be given tax relief to retain employees if their operations become inoperable due to a storm, and individuals will be allowed to deduct an unlimited amount of cash charitable contributions to non-profit organizations when the donations are allocated toward disaster relief.
"This legislation is essential to assisting suffering communities rebuild after this spring's devastating storms," said Inhofe. "It provides much-needed temporary tax relief to the individuals and small businesses hit hardest by severe weather throughout the Southeastern United States. Permitting families to dip into their retirement funds without having to pay tax penalties will enable many residents to repair their homes without going into debt. Small business owners will also be encouraged with tax credits to retain and continue paying employees if their businesses remain closed because of the storm. It will also encourage support from across the nation as Americans help their neighbors in need by making donations. All of these temporary provisions will help communities move forward after this year's uncharacteristically severe weather."
Shelby said, "The tornado system that devastated the state of Alabama in late April, as well as other recent natural disasters that have plagued the Southeast, were exceptionally tragic events. However, it is important that we continue pick up the pieces. The Southeastern Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2011 will help those affected do just that by providing temporary tax relief that is necessary in these dire circumstances. It is my hope that this legislation will help people and businesses rebuild and get back on their feet."
The Southeastern Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2011 is expected to provide over $5 billion in tax relief to communities in Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The cost of this bill has been offset by rescinding $12 billion in unobligated appropriations that remain unexpired.