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Federal Tax Relief Proposed for Sandy Victims

Tax deductions for cleanup costs, charitable donations and more proposed by Sens. Charles Schumer and Robert Menendez.

Nearly six weeks after Hurricane Sandy touched down on the shores of Long Island and New Jersey, Sens. Charles Schumer and Robert Menendez have proposed legislation that would provide tax relief to individuals and businesses affected by the storm.

Breaks would include tax deductions related to cleanup costs and Sandy-related donations, tax credits for employers who were forced to close yet retained workers, and relief of a 10 percent tax on early retirement plan withdrawals, as well as several other provisions.

“When recovering from a hammer-blow like Sandy, every bit of support helps, and this legislation will make it easier for families and small businesses affected by the storm to marshal more of their resources for recovery,” said Schumer on Sunday in a statement

“These changes to existing tax law are a common sense and simple way to help disaster victims, and a quick way to get them aid to repair their homes, to recover losses, and to support their businesses.”

The senators' legislation is modeled after tax relief granted following Hurricane Katrina, and the effort and dollars required to aid the area were reported in November to likely be the Red Cross' largest relief effort since the 2005 storm that hit the Golf Coast.

Tax relief efforts on the local level have included exemptions on building permits and efforts to fast-track applications, while Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency lifted taxes on building materials for 200 local businesses in the weeks following the storm. 

The federal bill provides tax exemptions for individuals who provided free housing for at least 60 days to people displaced by Sandy, offering $500 per person with a maximum of four exemptions.

The senators were joined by a Long Beach and Jersey City on Sunday at a press conference. The bill is expected to be introduced this week. 

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