Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Bill Pascrell (NJ-8), and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have introduced the Tax Relief for Victims of Disasters Act of 2011, which will help families across the country recover from this historic year of natural disasters.
With disaster declarations issued in 48 states, many families are struggling to cope with the stress and cost of recovery. Earlier this year, Joplin, Missouri was hit with one of the deadliest and most costly tornadoes in U.S. history. Last month, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused extensive damage, leaving millions without power, and destroying highways, homes, businesses and schools that our communities will now need to rebuild. This month, massive wildfires have engulfed thousands of acres of land in Texas.
These devastating storms have left many homeless, unemployed or underemployed. The Tax Relief for Victims of Disasters Act would create tax exemptions for displaced individuals and families who take in others who have lost their homes, remove limitations on personal casualty or theft for losses that occur in the disaster area and are attributable to the disaster, allow families who have lost their earnings to retain their Child Tax Credits (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). These provisions are based on those approved after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and enabled families to get the relief they needed to put their lives back together.
"In Connecticut, nearly a million homes were without power after Tropical Storm Irene hit, and dozens of homes were destroyed. The recovery effort is ongoing, but it is a long process. And this storm is just one of many disasters to affect the United States this year. Americans are hurting, and we must do all we can to help our communities," said Congresswoman DeLauro. "This legislation would give families the financial relief they need to recover and rebuild their lives."
"Irene was a once-in-a-century storm for Vermonters," said Congressman Welch. "Many families and businesses already struggling in a tough economy were totally devastated. As they work to get back on their feet, this common sense tax relief will provide critical help to those who -- through no fault of their own -- were caught on the bad end of a bad storm."
"Hurricane Irene left thousands of New Jersey's residents with substantial damage to their homes and businesses. Many neighborhoods will not be completely rebuilt for many years," said Congressman Pascrell. "As a Member of the Committee on Ways and Means, I believe that these modest changes to the tax code are one step that Congress can take to ensure the victims of this storm are provided with the relief they need to rebuild their lives."
"I saw first-hand the devastation caused by Irene in New Jersey, with homes, businesses and communities destroyed. The path to recovery is a long one and we must give our families all the tools necessary to help them rebuild and move forward," said Senator Menendez. "This tax relief is one of those tools and it's the right thing to do for our families and our communities."