Congress heeds Curbelo’s call to advance targeted tax relief for hurricane victims

Congress approved legislation on Thursday supported by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) to provide targeted tax relief to the victims of Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria.

The House passed the bill in the morning by a vote of 264-155 and the Senate approved the bill by unanimous consent that afternoon. The bill now heads to President Donald Trump to sign into law.

Curbelo, who represents the congressional district that was hit hardest by Hurricane Irma, is an original cosponsor of the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017, H.R. 3823. The measure extends authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration for six months, and also provides families and communities tax relief on top of the $15 billion in disaster funding that was enacted earlier this month.

The bill aids recovery through deductions for personal casualty losses, penalty-free access to retirement funds, incentives for charitable giving, disaster-related employment relief, and special earned income tax credit and child tax credit determinations for 2017.

In an address on the House floor prior to the vote, Curbelo noted that representatives of areas hit hardest by the hurricane, including U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the sponsor of the bill, have been working to advance and improve the bill to help their communities recover.

“(To) say that (the bill) is not good enough so instead we’ll do nothing is just unacceptable,” Curbelo said on the House floor. “I urge my colleagues to reconsider because I think it’s important that we send a message of national unity to help those who are hurting. And if we can do more in the future, we will and we should … I would just thank all of my colleagues that understand how urgent this situation is, how much pain and suffering is being experienced in these communities, and I ask them respectfully to please support this legislation.”

Curbelo added that people in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico need the solutions outlined in the bill immediately, and Congress will have to consider an additional funding package for FEMA in the near future as well.