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Houston Mayor's News Conference on Hurricane Harvey Tax Bill
by Garrett Bryce w/photos courtesy City of Houston
Friday, January 12, 2018

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and United States Senator Ted Cruz today held a news conference regarding a tax relief program aimed at those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Turner noted that the Hurricane Tax Relief Act, which has been signed into law.

“The law allows a huge number of people and businesses in the entire Houston area to cut the amount of federal income taxes they pay for 2017,” Turner said. “That means Houstonians will have more money in their pockets to get their lives and possessions back to normal.” Listen (21:22)

Turner then turned the conference over to Cruz, who praised Turner's efforts during the response to the storm.

Cruz noted that two major disaster relief bills have been approved by Congress, with the first at $7.5 billion, which he noted had been doubled to $15 billion. A later bill approved more than $36 billion to provide funding for areas impacted by the storms. He then discussed the tax relief legislation.

“Everyone knows about the big tax cut that was passed at the end of the year by Congress, that's going to impact and benefit Americans all across the country, but the Hurricane Tax Relief bill is targeted for those that were impacted by Hurricane Harvey, or Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria,” Cruz said. “And it passed into law and it directly benefits millions of Texans and and millions of Houstonians.”

Under the bill, those who had suffered damages to their property during Hurricane Harvey, may deduct their damages without being subject to normal limitations that apply.

“Even if you don't itemize your taxes, you can deduct those losses,” Cruz noted.

The legislation also provides that those with damaged homes may withdraw from their retirement savings without a penalty to repair their homes.

It also assists charities assisting those impacted by Harvey, and gives a tax credit for employers who continued to pay employees in the aftermath of the storm.

Turner said he wanted people to know about the benefits, and to make use of them during tax season.

He concluded comments by noting that the city is seeking assistance in recovering.

“We have simply said Houstonians, we're not begging for anything, we simply wanted to be treated fairly and treated the same way people treated New Orleans after Katrina, and the northeast after Sandy,” he said.

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