June 06, 2023

Van Hollen, Cortez Masto Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Help Americans Recover from Natural Disasters

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) in introducing bipartisan legislation with Senators John Kennedy (R-La.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to provide relief for impacted taxpayers in states that have issued state-level disaster declarations. Currently, the IRS has the authority to postpone filing deadlines in the event of a presidentially-declared federal disaster, but this does not extend to state-level emergencies. Companion legislation is being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Judy Chu (D-Calif.-28) and David Kustoff (R-Tenn.-08).

“For many, when disaster strikes, it’s a struggle to recover from the blow and get back on their feet,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This bipartisan bill provides financial flexibility for Americans impacted by disaster so they can focus on rebuilding their lives and livelihoods.”

“While I’m glad the administration heeded my call and issued a federal disaster declaration for some Nevada counties impacted by severe flooding, there are still communities in Nevada suffering from intense snowmelt that aren’t covered by this declaration. Across the country, too many communities harmed by natural disasters each year miss out on the critical tax relief that comes with federal recognition,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “My bipartisan bill will fix this problem and support more Nevada taxpayers experiencing extreme weather and wildfires.”

“Louisianians have been hit with all the storms nature has to offer. While our people do the hard work of rebuilding, even a little commonsense help can go a long way, including extensions for filing taxes. This bill would make sure that Louisiana has the freedom to provide disaster victims with the federal tax extensions they need to recover. I’m thankful to partner with Sen. Cortez Masto on this effort,” said Senator Kennedy.

“Many Tennesseans lose their livelihoods when a natural disaster hits, and it is essential that they are eligible to receive tax relief from the federal government regardless of if the president declared a major disaster or state of emergency,” said Senator Blackburn. “The Filing Relief for Natural Disasters Act would ensure that when extreme weather or natural disasters strike Tennessee, the governor can extend tax relief to those who have been affected.”

“When a natural disaster strikes, ruining homes, communities, and lives, the last thing a survivor should be worried about is filing their taxes,” said Representative Chu. “Unfortunately, the IRS can only grant deadline extensions to federally declared emergencies, which are often declared days or weeks after a governor declares a state-level emergency. In California, where wildfires or earthquakes can strike without warning, taxpayers must waste their valuable time and resources filing for penalty waivers and extensions. The Filing Relief for Natural Disasters Act is a common-sense, reasonable solution to this problem by extending that IRS authority to state-declared disasters and states of emergency.”

“Over the years, West Tennessee families and businesses have been impacted by natural disasters,” said Representative Kustoff. “The Filing Relief for Natural Disasters Act will provide relief to taxpayers affected by such crises so that they can focus on what matters most: caring for loved ones and rebuilding their communities. I urge my colleagues to support this crucial legislation that will give Americans impacted by natural disasters the flexibility they need to recover.”

The Filing Relief for Natural Disasters Act would allow the governor of a state or territory to extend a federal tax filing deadline in the event of a state-declared emergency or disaster, which happens automatically for federally-declared disasters. Extending this authority to states gives them the ability to provide relief independent of the federal government’s involvement in an emergency or natural disaster. The legislation would also expand the mandatory federal filing extension from 60 days to 120 days.