Democrats, Haslam Push Tax-Relief Extension for Flood Victims

Press Release from the Senate Democratic Caucus, Feb. 15, 2011:

Bill would extend previous sales tax break to April 30

NASHVILLE – Senate Democrats were joined by Governor Bill Haslam on Tuesday in recommending that tax relief for May 2010 flood victims be extended through the end of April.

“Many of our hardest-hit constituents were still rebuilding and repairing their houses by the time the original tax break ended,” said Senator Douglas Henry (D-Nashville), the lead sponsor of the extension. “This extension gives them the chance to turn their houses into their homes again.”

Senate Bill 6 would exempt flood victims registered with FEMA from sales tax on home appliances, building materials and large furniture items, up to a cap of $2,500. That tax cap would cover roughly $27,000 of purchases. Those who have already taken advantage of the tax relief would still be eligible, as long as they have not hit the cap.

The May 2010 floods ravaged Middle and West Tennessee, killing 26 people and causing more than $2 billion in damage in the Nashville area alone. Cleanup efforts are still ongoing in some communities.

“Less than a year ago, much of our state was underwater,” said Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney (D-Jackson), the bill’s cosponsor. “We haven’t forgotten that our neighbors are still recovering and still need our help.”

The bill passed unanimously through the Tax Subcommittee of the Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee on Tuesday with the governor’s recommendation. Two similar bills also passed, but bill sponsors said they would likely support Senate Bill 6, pending action in the House. The House version of the bill is in a subcommittee.

Senator Douglas Henry represents portions of Davidson County. Senator Lowe Finney represents Madison, Carroll and Gibson Counties.