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A bipartisan bill to create a disaster mitigation tax credit for families and business owners in areas prone to natural disasters was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The Shelter Act, introduced by Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, and Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, and Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Florida and Charlie Crist, D-Florida, would allow the writing off of 25% of qualifying mitigation expenses, from strengthening the durability of a roof to elevating a housing unit to reduce potential flood damage, according to a summary of the legislation. The tax credit has an annual limit of up to $5,000 per taxpayer.
Eligible properties include homes or businesses in or adjacent to an area that the federal government has declared a disaster within the past 10 years, according to the summary.
The credit begins to phase down when a business earns $5 million and phases out completely when its revenue is more than $10 million while phasing out for households that earn more than $168,000 for joint filers and phasing out entirely for households that earn more than $250,000, according to the summary.
The hazard mitigation expenditure must be in compliance with the latest published editions of relevant consensus-based codes, specifications and standards or any more restrictive federal, state or local floodplain management standards and consistent with floodplain management regulations, according to the summary. Taxpayers would be required to submit a summary of their hazard mitigation investment to the Internal Revenue Service.
"I commend both chambers for introducing this Act,” Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Mitigation efforts to harden homes and businesses against the catastrophic impacts of natural disasters is a win for all Americans. It will incent homeowners and businesses to invest in protecting their property by providing tax credits for mitigation efforts, ultimately saving lives and taxpayer dollars. Mitigation is a commonsense approach to protecting communities in harms’ way.”
The costliest year for natural disasters on record is placing new attention on the importance of mitigating future disaster risks, with compelling data highlighting how investments in predisaster mitigation can save money in the long term.