Reed announces disaster tax bill during visit to Arc of Yates

John Christensen
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (left) talks with Arc of Yates Executive Director Kate Ring at The Arc of Yates. In the background, State Sen. Tom O'Mara talks with Jeannette Frank, executive director of The Arc of Schuyler. Reed toured The flood-damaged Arc building Tuesday

Rep. Tom Reed was in Penn Yan Tuesday touring the Arc of Yates to view the facility’s flood damage and officially announce the bipartisan National Disaster Relief Tax Act sponsored by him in the House of Representatives and by Sen. Charles Schumer in the Senate, intended to help places like the Arc of Yates recover faster from flooding damage.

Reed praised Arc Executive Director Kate Ring and all the staff for “their ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome in the midst of that crisis.” He recounted Arc’s ability to move their services for 180 clients to another facility and be up and running within 72 hours with the help of Finger Lakes Health’s generous offer of administrative offices at the John D. Kelly Center. Reed also commended the help Yates received from The Arc of Schuyler.

State Sen. Tom O’Mara commented on how much there is yet to do, and reiterated Reed’s offer of help from his office to get The Arc and other such community services and businesses up and running again, “and making the community stronger than before.”

Yates County Legislature Chairman Tim Dennis said “The keyword here is partnership;” partnership for recovery efforts between the federal, state, and county government, and agencies like Arc to continue the services needed by so many.

Reed asserts his bipartisan National Disaster Relief Tax bill will provide much-needed tax relief to federally-declared natural disasters, including the recent flooding throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes.

Historically, Congress has helped disaster-hit communities rebuild with tax relief provisions as it did in the wake of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and Ike; Tropical Storm Irene; tornadoes in Kansas, Alabama, and Oklahoma; and flooding and landslides that struck Colorado and Washington. Reed’s bill would extend that relief to disasters that happened since 2011.

“Even with the long history of providing this relief to communities across the country, Congress has only done so in an ad hoc way, leaving out dozens more federally-declared disasters including Hurricane Sandy, the second-costliest natural disaster in the history of our country, and recent flooding that devastated parts of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes,” Reed says. “Those communities need help just like any other community left in the wake of a federally-declared natural disaster. It’s only fair communities hit hard by recent natural disasters get the same care and opportunities to rebuild that other parts of the country received,” Reed says. “Right now, there’s no consistency in tax relief for natural disasters, and that’s putting a real strain on anyone trying to get back on their own two feet.”

Reed’s bill uses tax provisions commonly used in other disaster relief bills to help communities recover, including:

• Allows for greater disaster-related charitable contributions;

• Makes it easier for individuals to deduct disaster-related losses;

• Provides additional tax credits to rebuild disaster areas and provide low income housing;

• Waives the threshold for individuals to claim losses to their property, including homes and cars.