Prior to enactment of the National Disaster Relief Act, when a major disaster struck, Congress would draft legislation providing targeted tax benefits for taxpayers affected by the disaster that were specific to that particular disaster.
The National Disaster Relief Act, which provides a broad package of tax benefits that may be used by anyone who is affected by a federally declared disaster, effectively replaces the strategy of providing targeted benefits for disaster victims in the weeks or months following the incident.
The National Disaster Relief Act provides the following tax benefits:
- Allows all taxpayers, not just those who itemize, to claim the casualty loss deduction regardless of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income level;
- Increases the amount by which all individual taxpayers must reduce their personal casualty losses from each casualty from $100 to $500 for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2008. The reduction amount returns to $100 for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2009;
- Removes the requirement that the net casualty loss deduction be allowed only if the casualty loss exceeds 10 percent of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income;
- Provides a five-year net operating loss (NOL) carryback for qualified natural disaster losses.
- Waives certain mortgage revenue bond requirements for affected taxpayers and allows the bond proceeds to be used for rebuilding.
For business taxpayers, the Act also:
- Allows an affected business taxpayer to deduct certain qualified disaster cleanup expenses;
- Allows an affected business taxpayer to deduct 50 percent of the cost of qualifying property in addition to the regular depreciation allowance that is normally available; and
- Increases the limits that an affected business taxpayer can expense for qualifying section 179 property.
Check here for full details regarding the National Disaster Relief Act.