29 September 2017

House passes disaster tax relief bill for hurricane victims

By Michael Cohn
Published September 28 2017, 1:00pm EDT


The House passed legislation Thursday that provides some tax relief to victims of the recent spate of hurricanes.

The bill, introduced by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, would help victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria by creating a deduction for personal casualty losses for uncompensated losses in disaster areas. It would eliminate the current legal requirement that personal casualty losses need to exceed 10 percent of adjusted gross income to be compensated. 

The bill would also give disaster victims penalty-free access to their retirement funds. It would provide an exception to the 10 percent early retirement plan withdrawal penalty for qualified hurricane relief distributions. It also permits re-contribution of retirement plan withdrawals for home purchases cancelled due to eligible disasters and offers flexibility for loans from retirement plans for qualified hurricane relief.

In addition, the bill aims to encourage charitable giving by temporarily suspending limitations on the deduction for charitable contributions associated with qualified hurricane relief made before Dec. 31, 2017.

For 2017, the bill would also allow taxpayers to refer to earned income from the immediately preceding year for purposes of determining the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Other provisions of the legislation include development of a private flood insurance market, and funding for federal aviation programs and airport improvements.

“Hundreds of thousands of families have lost everything, even loved ones,” said Brady on the floor of the House Wednesday night. “This legislation will help them begin to recover through meaningful, targeted tax relief they need now.”

The legislation now moves to the Senate.