GOP Tax Reform Bill Hurts Victims Of Natural Disasters

The Republican Tax Reform bill will reportedly add $1.5 trillion to the national debt, while providing massive tax breaks for wealth Americans and corporations. A new report says the bill will also hurt victims of natural disasters.

Mother Jones notes:

[The GOP tax bill] would eliminate a tax deduction for uninsured casualty losses from natural disasters. Right now, disaster victims can deduct losses that aren’t insured and that amount to more than 10 percent of their incomes. Under the new tax plan, the deduction could only be claimed for those disasters that the president declares a federal emergency.

Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, told Mother Jones that eliminating casualty loss deduction for most natural disasters is one more way the Republicans are raising money to pay for tax breaks of the rich:

Casualty losses occur in isolation; you’re just unlucky and your house burns down in a fire. Really, you can look at this as denying deductions in the future for individuals to help pay for the large corporate tax cuts.

The IRS’ Statistics of Income Division noted in 2015 that over 72,000 people filed a casualty or theft deduction.

Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California sounded the alarm on Nov. 8 in a press release:

After the worst fire season in California history, it’s unbelievable that Republicans are considering eliminating the tax deduction for losses suffered during a natural disaster. Asking victims of wildfires or earthquakes to suffer in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich is the height of cruelty.

During the recent wildfires, 43 people were killed and nearly 8,900 buildings destroyed, resulting in billions of dollars in damages. Under the Republican plan, families who lose everything in a similar disaster in the future would be unable to write off those losses.

The Republican plan also allows the victims of recent hurricanes to keep special tax breaks but doesn’t offer those same benefits to families trying to rebuild from last month’s wildfires. Our tax code shouldn’t pick winners and losers in natural disasters.

This is just another example of the extraordinary lengths Republicans will go to cut taxes for wealthy corporations and individuals at the expense of middle-class families. We urge the Senate Finance committee to reject this absurd proposal and not include it in the Senate’s tax reform bill. Americans want a tax code that helps those in need, not just the rich.

(Sources: Mother Jones, Diane FeinsteinIRS’ Statistics of Income Division, Photo Credit: Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916/Flickr)

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