Rick Scott, Byron Donalds seek tax relief for hurricane victims
Without updated building codes, expect more scenes like this. Image via AP.

Hurricane Ian AP -
Federal legislation would provide relief to survivors of Ian, Nicole or Fiona.

Those Floridians dealing with losses from hurricanes last year could see Congress deliver tax relief.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds introduced the Hurricane Tax Relief Act, which would cut a number of breaks to those impacted by Hurricane Ian, Nicole or Fiona.

Donalds, a Naples Republican, said Southwest Florida residents were dealt a hard blow in 2022. They shouldn’t worry about more financial challenges when they file their taxes.

“As the Congressman representing ground zero of Hurricane Ian’s impact, it has been my utmost priority to restore our community and ensure the federal government is working to help, not hold up our recovery efforts,” Donalds said.

“I am proud to work with Sen. Rick Scott on this commonsense and collaborative approach to providing critical and enhanced disaster loss tax relief to those impacted by Hurricane Ian and other natural disasters in 2022. This bill provides much needed and focused financial assistance that will undoubtedly alleviate the economic burden of many in my district and throughout Florida and Puerto Rico.”

Ian made landfall in Lee County on Sept. 28. Weeks later, Hurricane Nicole hit Florida’s Atlantic Coast on Nov. 9.

Scott, also a Naples Republican, sponsored the House bill with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican.

The Florida officials also worked with Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón, Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner. Puerto Rico took the brunt of Hurricane Fiona on Sept. 17.

“The last thing families should have to worry about as they recover from devastating storms like Ian, Nicole and Fiona is a big tax bill,” Scott said.

“In years past, Congress has worked to make sure that families can get the disaster loss tax relief they deserve following hurricanes, and this good bill follows that precedent. Communities in Florida and Puerto Rico have shown incredible strength in the days, week and months following these storms, and it is critical that we continue to make sure the federal government is working with state and local officials to get resources to those in need.”

Other introducing co-sponsors include U.S. Reps. Scott Franklin, a Lakeland Republican, Bill Posey, a Rockledge Republican, Mario Díaz-Balart, a Hialeah Republican, and Gus Bilirakis, a Palm Harbor Republican.

The bill modifies the deduction for personal casualty losses in the hurricane disaster area to eliminate a requirement for losses to exceed 10% of adjusted gross income to qualify for the deduction and the requirement to itemize.

The legislation mirrors what has been done for previous hurricanes and natural disasters, and previous legislation enacting these provisions has been put into law recently as 2020.

The bill cures an oversight in the budget process, according to Rubio.

“One of the many flaws of the recent Omnibus, which was drafted behind closed doors, is that it did not provide common sense tax relief for families, businesses, and communities that were impacted by hurricanes,” Rubio said. “I am pleased to introduce this measure to provide much needed support for Floridians.”

González-Colón said the relief was needed on the island and U.S. territory she represents.

“An integral recovery process requires recognizing that residents and businesses have to sometimes use their own resources as part of their response,” González-Colón said.

“This legislation provides a timely relief to those who incurred losses in the recent disasters and are now seeking to rebuild their homes and workplaces, especially in the face of increasing costs. I am proud to be co-leading this bipartisan effort on behalf of the people of Puerto Rico and Florida and I look forward to working with Senators Scott and Rubio and Representatives Donalds, Franklin, and Posey as this bill advances in the legislative process.”

All members with constituents affected by the storm said the legislation was appropriate.

“Our friends and neighbors impacted by last year’s disastrous hurricane season need all the help they can get as they continue to rebuild their communities,” Franklin said. He represents much of the Florida Heartland. “They shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they meet a threshold defined by complicated tax codes. The Hurricane Tax Relief Act is a common sense fix that could have positive impact for millions of Floridians.”

The storms were also deadly, Posey noted. He represents a district on the Atlantic Coast.

“Back-to-back storms last fall claimed lives, destroyed homes and properties, and caused serious financial strain on families all over Florida, which was only compounded by skyrocketing inflation and supply chain issues,” Posey said. “We continue to hear from constituents who were affected by these terrible storms, so I am pleased to join Congressman Donalds and Senator Scott and I appreciate their leadership on this commonsense legislation to provide much-needed tax relief.”

Bilirakis supported streamlining the process for Floridians.

“My goal is to remove the red tape and make sure our fellow Floridians have all the relief they need and deserve as they work to recover from this devastating hurricane,” he said.

Passing the bill will bring important relief, said Díaz-Balart.

“As communities continue to rebuild after Hurricanes Ian, Nicole, and Fiona, it is imperative that they have the resources necessary to recover,” he said. “I am proud to cosponsor this legislation that will provide much-needed relief to those affected by these devastating storms. I commend my colleagues, Congressman Byron Donalds and Senator Rick Scott, for their leadership in this effort.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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