House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady introduced legislation Friday afternoon to provide a set of targeted tax breaks for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The hurricane relief is tied to a six-month extension of Federal Aviation Administration authorities and a measure to promote private options in flood insurance.
Brady, a Houston-area Republican, said the bill's tax provisions would provide "targeted, meaningful tax relief that will make it easier for people to recover and return home as soon as possible."
The bill includes a raft of measures meant to funnel tax breaks to people affected by storms in Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and elsewhere.
Among them would be an expansion of the deduction available for casualty losses. Those deductions would be available to all filers in the disaster area, including people who don't itemize deductions.
The bill also would ease penalty-free access to savings in tax-privileged retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s. Before the end of the year, the cap on deductible charitable contributions for disaster relief would be lifted.
Also, the bill would create a new tax credit of up to $6,000 for wages paid by employers affected by the hurricanes. Lastly, it would allow people in the disaster area to claim low-income and child tax credits based on the previous year, meaning the value of the credits won't be dinged by the loss of income from the storms.
An estimate of the fiscal cost of the bill or its tax relief provisions was not immediately available.
Passing the legislation gives the committee one more significant task to accomplish. Yet it would have to move quickly: FAA authorization runs out at the end of the month.