Press Releases

Tom Reed at Arc of Yates County to Announce Bill for Natural Disaster Relief

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Washington, DC, August 26, 2014 | comments
Tom Reed and Kate Ring, Executive Director of the Arc of Yates, view flooding damage and talk with Arc volunteers about the community-wide effort to recover and rebuild.
TOM REED AT ARC OF YATES COUNTY TO ANNOUNCE BILL FOR NATURAL DISASTER RELIEF

Tom Reed was at the Arc of Yates in Penn Yan Tuesday, in a community hit hard by flooding earlier this spring. Reed toured the facility and took in the recent flooding damage before announcing the introduction of his bipartisan National Disaster Relief Tax Act, a bill to provide tax relief to communities devastated in presidentially-declared disasters in recent years. The bill helps businesses, homeowners and farmers in places like Yates County, where flooding damages totaled over $10 million, with the rebuilding process.

“Seeing the unbelievable damage at the Arc in person makes it even clearer these communities need help to recover and rebuild faster,” Tom Reed said. “The local community is pulling together to keep programs moving forward and the Arc is doing an incredible job utilizing every resource and inch of space to care for our neighbors who depend on the Arc’s services. It’s only fair these communities hit hard by recent natural disasters get the same care and opportunities to rebuild that other parts of the country received. We need to keep the focus on helping places like the Arc rebuild so that they can get back to the important work they’re doing to help our neighbors in need.”

The Arc of Yates was hit particularly hard by flooding in May, causing over one million dollars in damages and forcing staff to utilize offices and conference rooms as makeshift housing spaces while it rebuilds. Reed’s bill would provide tax relief to places like the Arc, easing the strain so they can rebuild quicker. In addition to the tax relief outlined in Reed’s bill, Reed said his office is also working with FEMA to secure additional federal funds to help the Arc of Yates rebuild.

Kate Ring, Executive Director, Arc of Yates said of the visit, “The Arc of Yates Board of Directors, Administration, staff and individuals we support are deeply grateful for the disaster relief advocacy efforts on the part of Congressman Tom Reed. Although our team has been diligent in making this transition the least disruptive possible, the current arrangements fall short and we continue to tackle hurdles both great and small on a daily basis. The Congressman’s visit today has lifted our spirits and allowed us to continue to move forward through this challenging chapter of our Agency’s history.”

Congress has historically 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 recent flooding that devastated parts of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes,” Reed continued. “Those communities need help just like any other community left in the wake of a natural disaster.”

Steve Griffin, CEO of the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council (FLEDC) said, “The FLEDC is very appreciative of Congressman Reed’s efforts to help out those in our community who have been affected by the recent flooding. This legislation introduced by Congressman Reed is another great example of the support received from our State and Federal Representatives and will further assist recovery efforts.”

"Farms in New York are unfortunately no stranger to natural disasters, and it is imperative that we rebound quickly for the sake of our businesses and farm families,” said Matt Lewis, Yates County Farm Bureau President. “We thank Rep. Reed for working to provide options that can help our farms get back on their feet should disasters strike.”

"This bill will offer real relief to the residents of Penn Yan, as well as communities across New York and other impacted states,” said Jolie Milstein, President and CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing. “It will not only provide significant economic benefits to individuals, families, and small businesses as they recover from devastation, it will also stimulate rebuilding efforts for much-needed affordable housing and mixed income communities. We thank Congressman Reed for his leadership and are pleased to be partners on this critical piece of legislation.”

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

·         Allowing business to immediately deduct the full cost to rebuild and clean up disaster damages and to deduct losses from tax returns filed up to 3 years earlier;

·         Providing additional tax credits to rebuild disaster areas and provide low income housing;

·         Allowing for greater disaster-related charitable contributions;

·         Waiving the threshold for individuals to claim losses to their property, including homes and cars;

·         Other provisions to allow low-income individuals in the disaster area to opt to use their previous year’s income for determining the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit and clarify that state and local disaster mitigation payments aren’t includable in income.

Also joining Reed at the Arc were State Senator Tom O’Mara, Dr. Tim Dennis, Chair of the Yates County Legislature, representatives from local economic development and housing organizations, and area businesses impacted by flooding.

Following severe flooding in May, Reed urged the President to issue a federal disaster declaration for New York State. Eleven counties in New York – Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Delaware, Herkimer, Lewis, Livingston, Ontario, Otsego, Steuben and Yates had damages surpassing the New York State threshold of $26.9 million.

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