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House GOP Tax Bill Would End Deduction for Wildfire Victims

by Countable | 12.9.17

What’s the story?

As Southern California burns, the L.A. Times noted that the "the House Republican tax bill would eliminate the deduction for personal losses from wildfires, earthquakes and other natural disasters, but keep the break for victims of the recent severe hurricanes."

Why does it matter?

By Saturday morning, the California wildfires had destroyed more than 500 structures, forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands people from their homes, and killed at least one person. Meanwhile, last month’s Northern California wildfires destroyed 8,800 structures and killed 43.

If the House GOP tax bill becomes law, it would repeal the deduction for personal casualty losses, which the IRS describes as losses from "natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes. It can also include losses from fires, accidents, thefts or vandalism."

Congress would still be able "to pass special legislation offering tax breaks for victims, as it has done in the past," the Times wrote.

While the deduction would disappear next year, it would still be available for those affected by this summer’s hurricanes and the victims of the Northern California wildfires—"as long as they can figure out their uninsured losses and include them on their 2017 tax return," the Times explained.

But California Rep. Mike Thompson, a Democrat representing Northern California, questioned the feasibility of that timetable.

"Do you really think that we’re going to be able to go in, assess all of the costs, get everything cleaned up, figure out where people are going to stand in time to do their taxes?" Thompson told colleagues on the House Ways and Means Committee. “It’s not going to happen.”

Some California officials have also criticized the decision of the committee’s chairman - Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) - to grandfather in losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Brady represents a district just north of Houston, which was hit hard by Harvey.

The mayor of Santa Rosa, which was decimated by the Northern California wildfires, said the bill

"smacks of political favoritism."

What do you think?

Should the GOP tax bill keep deductions for personal casualty losses? Or can taxpayers rely on Congress to pass special legislation as needed? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your comments below.

—Josh Herman

Related Reading

(Photo Credit: mack2happy / iStockphoto)

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(151)
  • Sheryl
    12/09/2017
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    Natural disasters are just like a catastrophic illness or accident. No one is prepared for these events and that is one of the times the federal government can really be of service to citizens. I notice the Republican Congress has no problem keeping corporate welfare in their tax bill.

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  • Mike
    12/09/2017
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    This a cruel thing to those who have lost everything. You guys will be voted out of office.

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  • RadicalModerate
    12/09/2017
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    It’s because the west coast is progressive. This is clearly meant to hurt some Americans, so that others may pay less taxes.

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  • PLD
    12/10/2017
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    This is the cruelest and most selfish group of politicians to sit on Capitol Hill in decades! It truly works only for big business, and the 1% who can afford to buy their loyalty. How so much support can be given to that group on the backs of the neediest, and the most desperate especially along with all of the remaining 99% is deplorable! Eliminating the tax exemption of those who have faced the horrors of natural disasters appears to be nothing more than that of pouring proverbial salt on the wounds of American citizens. This element should be completely opposed! The elected group of soulless legislator supporting this entire tax bill should be looking for other jobs when their terms expire. Unfortunately, they’ll have done tremendous damage to the lives of a huge number of Americans while those same legislators enjoy all the benefits that their selfishness has rewarded them. Please continue to stand defiantly against this horrific tax bill!

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  • BeStrong
    12/10/2017
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    Almost 500 homes and structures have been wiped out in CA. Wild fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes...why not offer support for wild fires? I understand the GOP’s position, CA votes Democrat, so punish them. These are American families who have lost everything. Can I overstate just how sickeningly obvious this is. Vote these folks out. #Vote2018 #Vote2020

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  • S
    12/10/2017
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    Who is rotting? Who supports bigotry, child assault, sexual harassment? Who embraces s child molester? Who believes that unless you are a person who gives large sums of money to your congressmen you are not worthy of govt protection from economic peril? Who believes that 9 million children make a good down payment for the tax breaks given to the top 1%? Who wants to keep the deficit in the trillions of dollars and use it as a reason to blow out Medicaid, social Security, Medicare? Who wants to use the deficit created by billions of dollars given to the wealthy to blow out benefits to those who are disabled? To blow out benefits for the health and protection of children? To blow out all maternal and newborn care? To blow out any benefit to persons suffering catastrophic loss through acts of nature, accidents, fires. Who believes that loss of life due to acts of nature, accidents and fires are insufficient payment for being an unworthy person of low or middle economic class and believes in inflicting more pain on them? Who believes that the worth of a person is determined solely upon the amount of money given to politicians? Who believes that ignoring the will of the people is the way to govern? Who believes that representatives do not represent the people but represent themselves? Who believes that the country should become a monarchy? Give up? REPUBLICAN US CONGRESS. These people have deemed us worthy only of their contempt and unworthy and undeserving of any govt protection from peril.

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  • Allie
    12/10/2017
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    This is an outrageous Tax Bill that doesn’t serve the people, vote NO!!’

    Like (21)
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  • Carl
    12/10/2017
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    If in essence the Republican stance is to only focus on benefits for those in the 1% to, not fund the Chip program in order to fund Corporate tax breaks, this party looks not conservative but neigh onto criminal. Do not give away the only hint at recovery those whose homes have flooded burned or been damaged beyond living in, it would make you look intentionally criminal and inhuman.

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  • Rosalind
    12/09/2017
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    What has happened to America’s heart? I now seem to be living in a country that only values those with money who can pay their own way and never experience a catastrophic event in their lives. Those born into poverty, have limited means, are poor, injured or sick and experience catastrophic conditions are out of luck. These are not the values of a country that once welcomed those seeking refuge, and the disenfranchised. I am horrified and ashamed to call myself a citizen.

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  • Jim2423
    12/09/2017
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    Might as well get rid of the deductions for all disasters, we already can not afford earthquake or flood insurance or their deductibles. That way the insurance companies really come out the winners.

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  • S
    12/10/2017
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    Unconscionable! I keep going back to Billionaire Jr. inheritance not being taxed because it would be too financially stressful for him or her. Then some stupid congressman said it was a REWARD for the beneficiary not having spent his fortune on “women, booze, and movies!” All those billions being given away to not even the 1% but the 0.001 percent but not a deduction for people who lose everything through no fault of their own. Whose homes and businesses whose family members all lost—gone forever-/and the US govt doesn’t believe they should get a deduction for their loss. I’ll bet you’ve found about for the billionaires to have a deduction. There are not words enough to express my outrage. You won’t give 9 million kids health care because “there is no money,” you won’t let the average person deduct losses due to acts of God (insurance companies recognize this but not the US govt). And all of these PUNISHMENTS are being levied because the US congress DOESN’T BELIEVE ANYONE BUT THE WEALTHY ARE WORTHY OF ECONOMIC PROTECTION.

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  • CannabisSavedMe
    12/09/2017
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    John Katko NY 24th Shame on you for selling out Your constitutes for the benefit of You and Your rich corporate Masters! People of New York Please Call Rep. Katko at 877-795-7862: Tell him to oppose massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations paid for by raising taxes on the middle class and cutting Medicare, Medicaid and education. Here are some facts about the GOP tax bill: • 60% of tax cuts go to the richest 1% • Raises taxes on 87 million middle-class families • Strips 13 million Americans of their health insurance and raises premiums by $2,000 for millions of people on the individual insurance market • Mandates automatic Medicare cuts of $25 billion next year and $400 billion over 10 years • Adds over $1 trillion to the national debt, which will result in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security • Gives corporations tax breaks to outsource American jobs to foreign countries • Gives a $500 billion tax break to corporations on their offshore profits • Gives a huge tax cut to Donald Trump

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  • Mark
    12/09/2017
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    It seems that everyday now the American people are presented with a GOP bill that will greatly harm the country. Bills that cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and that increase the national debt at the expense of the working class are not good for the country. Declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel does nothing to enhance National or Global security, and in fact will directly cause the loss of life, And will certainly put Americans needlessly in harms way. This bill too is a travesty. When many Americans in the west are threatened by wildfires every year, and when many of those Americans lose property and homes to wildfires the GOP is making a conscious decision to impose more hardship on the majority in order to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Daines and Gianforte are not from Montana, do not represent Montanans or our values. A vote for this bill by them is a vote for more money out of our pockets and into theirs. The GOP no longer represents what it used to, it cannot be relied upon to stand for freedom, fiscal responsibility, environmental protection (see Roosevelt and Nixon) or national security. The party of Lincoln is dead. It has been hijacked by robber barons. The likes Lincoln, Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower are rolling over in their graves.

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  • Robert
    12/09/2017
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    This tax bill screws everyone but the rich! Sad thing is our representatives can’t tell you how bad because they haven’t read it all yet even though they have already voted for it.

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  • Hillary
    12/10/2017
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    Anyone who votes “yea” on this tax bill is showing the world that they are soulless greed mongers, devoid of human compassion, devoid of goodness. Subsidizing tax cuts for billionaires by removing one time tax deductions for people who have suffered a devastating loss from natural disasters is EVIL. Anyone who votes to hurt someone who has lost everything in order to donate more to someone who has everything is an inhuman, vile monster. This tax scam, this evil, rotten filth is a symbol of how depraved our government has become. I am so ashamed of any who vote to pass this bill.

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  • Gerald
    12/09/2017
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    Well, you realize The west coast votes Democratic. Gee, wonder who most likely will experience a massive earthquake or catastrophic wildfire. Too bad for you. Vote for Trump next time and he might not punish you. You should see his taxes so you can see other deductions you might take...oh right, you never will.

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  • M
    12/10/2017
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    Fatten the pockets of the rich with tax cuts, but kick vulnerable homeowners who have lost everything while they are struggling!

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  • Laura
    12/10/2017
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    It is absolutely inhuman and cruel that the House tax plan evicerates the ability to deduct costs of rebuilding from natural disasters. It’s bad enough that the tax plan targets the renewable energy sector, and therefore increases the likelihood of natural disasters due to climate change. WTF Rep. Meehan!? Sold your soul to the donors? All the money the GOP Congresspeople make from their donors if they pass this reprehensible and irresponsible bill isn’t nearly enough to soothe their souls for the damage their actions to create and pass this bill will create. I couldn’t be more fed up with the GOP.

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  • Diana
    12/10/2017
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    This new tax bill is reprehensible for too many reasons to count. PLEASE do right by the American people and do not let it pass. Government is to be for the people, not for corporations.

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  • burrkitty
    12/10/2017
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    This is a horrible thing to do to people who have just lost everything due to a disaster. Does it hurt the American people under the pretense of saving money while actually only supporting rich people? Rethuglicans. Hateful disgusting things. Like intestinal parasites.

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