Fire and earthquake losses are tax deductible under House bill

Signal file photo: A super scooper works to extinguish the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

The House of Representatives approved $2.6 billion to the Office of the Secretary, among other funding, to provide relief for areas affected by disasters, including California wildfires and earthquakes and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

The legislation comes just weeks after the Rye Fire started in Santa Clarita and the Thomas Fire overtook parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

“The recent fires in my district and throughout Southern California are proof that this bipartisan policy is absolutely necessary,” Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, said in a statement.

Through the legislation, victims of disasters can deduct the value of fire and earthquake losses from their federally taxable income, according to Knight’s office.

In addition to the funds to the Office of the Secretary, $400 million will go to the Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Conservation Program, $541 million will go to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations, $24 million will go to the Food and Nutrition Service’s Commodity Assistance Program and $600 million will go to the Economic Development Administration to help with fire damages.

The bill, known as the Emergency Disaster Aid Package, includes provisions from the California Wildfire Disaster Tax Relief Act introduced by Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Beach, which is cosponsored by Knight.

“I’m relieved my colleagues and I were able to successfully put these provisions into this aid package,” Knight said in a statement. “Fire and earthquake loss deductions are vital to help families recover from these devastating disasters.”

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