WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) reintroduced the Shelter Act to help Americans protect their homes or businesses against natural disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, floods, and drought. The Shelter Act would create a first-of-its-kind disaster mitigation tax credit for working families and small business owners in disaster-prone areas.
“The best way to recover from a flood is never flooding at all,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Every family or business owner can reduce their property’s chance of flooding. This legislation empowers them to do so.”
“In Colorado we know that a devastating natural disaster isn’t a matter of if, but when,” said Senator Bennet. “While Americans can receive federal tax relief following a disaster to help recoup their losses, there isn’t an incentive to prepare for future threats. Our bill would change that by encouraging taxpayers to invest in measures that increase resilience and safeguard their homes and businesses, helping to defend properties and save lives.”
Despite hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars spent on disaster recovery each year, there are currently no federal tax incentives to encourage families and businesses to plan ahead for disaster resilience and mitigation. The Shelter Act allows Americans to write off 25 percent of qualifying mitigation expenses, from strengthening the durability of a roof to elevating a housing unit to reduce potential flood damage. The tax credit has an annual limit of up to $5,000 per taxpayer. Eligible properties include homes or businesses in or adjacent to an area that the federal government has declared a disaster within the past 10 years. Taxpayers who rent a property in eligible areas can also receive the credit.
The Shelter Act is supported by the following organizations and businesses: American Institute of Architects, National Association of REALTORS, National Institute of Building Sciences.
“Pre-disaster mitigation planning is prudent government policy that saves taxpayer dollars. More importantly, it saves lives. The SHELTER Act provides critical government assistance to help vulnerable home and business owners make the upgrades needed to withstand the next natural disaster,” said Sarah Dodge, Senior Vice-President of Advocacy & Relationships at the American Institute of Architects.
“NIBS has long studied mitigation, but the nation has invested far less in mitigation investments than seems to be warranted,” said Lakisha A. Woods, CAE, President and CEO of the National Institute of Building Sciences. “We believe the Shelter Act aligns with the research and data outlined in our Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves study, which shows pre-disaster mitigation activities save up to $13 for every $1 invested on a national average.”
“The National Association of REALTORS® thanks Senator Bennet and Senator Cassidy for their reintroduction of the SHELTER Act,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler. “A changing global climate continues to demand innovation from our nation’s real estate industry, and policies which encourage property owners to proactively address climate risks are today more critical than ever. NAR hopes to continue our work with Congress to lessen the financial burdens of increasingly prevalent and severe natural disasters.”