Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.), along with Congressmen Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) introduced legislation to deliver tax relief to anyone affected by a federal declared major disaster. The Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2011 (S.1456) would allow Massachusetts families, individuals, and businesses affected by last month's tornadoes to deduct many of the costs of damage and cleanup.
"These tornadoes ripped our state apart, and the last thing people should have to worry about is how they're going to pay to rebuild," said Senator Kerry. "After a major disaster like this, a lot of people just need a break while they're getting back up on their feet. We're going to keep fighting in Congress to make sure that Washington doesn't turn away while Massachusetts works to rebuild."
"This bipartisan legislation is another way we can help those impacted by the tornadoes as they work to rebuild their communities," said Sen. Brown. "Providing tax relief to Massachusetts citizens will give individuals and businesses another tool in the toolkit as the clean-up efforts continue."
"Since the tornadoes touched down last month, I have visited every city and town in the region that suffered damage due to the worst storms in a generation. I have urged President Obama to quickly approve federal disaster assistance so the people of western and central Massachusetts would get the aid and resources they needed to recover. And today, Senator Kerry and I are introducing legislation to deliver tax relief to those affected by the tornadoes. It is another way the federal government can help families rebuild their homes, businesses and lives," said Rep. Neal.
"As history has shown, Mother Nature will continue to deal us periodic blows," said Rep. Kind. "And losing a home to a tornado is as devastating to a family as losing it to a large-scale disaster that garners national news coverage. In the past, Congress has provided tax relief for disaster victims only in an ad hoc fashion, leaving out many deserving individuals. With this bill we can change that, and provide tax relief to help every qualifying family and business rebuild and move on. It's about time that we have a mechanism in place to help in disaster situations without having to wait for Congress to act each time something happens."
The Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2011 includes a broad package of benefits for anyone affected by a federally declared disaster. It would:
* Allow anyone, regardless of income, to deduct many of the damage costs brought on by natural disaster.
* Allow affected businesses to deduct some of the costs of cleanup.
* Increase the limits that affected small businesses can expense.
* Encourage donations and charitable contributions to help communities struggling from a disaster.
Similar tax relief was important in helping Americans recover from natural disasters in 2008 and 2009. Unfortunately, those tax relief provisions expired soon after. This year there have already been 57 major disasters in 34 states.
Senator Kerry and Congressman Neal wrote an op-ed about the Disaster Tax Relief Act in the Springfield Republican on Sunday.