Louisiana Governor Unhappy State Was Left Out of Disaster Tax Relief Program

October 16, 2017

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ is disappointed that Louisiana has been left out of a federal program providing disaster tax relief to victims of this year’s hurricanes.

Edwards said he can’t “wrap my head around the idea” that Congress passed special disaster tax breaks for victims of this year’s hurricanes while leaving out victims of last year’s flooding that wrecked parts of south Louisiana.

Congress included the tax relief in the six-month extension of the Federal Aviation Administration. The recently passed bill includes five tax relief provisions for victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, allowing, for example, money from retirement accounts to be withdrawn without penalty for storm-related expenses.

Members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation unsuccessfully sought similar tax relief after the August 2016 floods.

Edwards said in a statement on Oct. 4 that Louisiana understands hurricane victims’ suffering but added: “Congress shouldn’t be in the business of pitting storm victims against one another.”

The Edwards administration is boosting the size of loans available to small businesses damaged by last year’s flooding in Louisiana and is extending the deadline for applications. The Restore Louisiana Small Business Program offers interest-free, partially forgivable loans to businesses harmed by the March and August 2016 floods. Twenty percent of the loan is forgiven when the other 80 percent is repaid.

Under the changes announced on Oct. 4, the loans now range from $10,000 to $150,000. They previously had ranged from $20,000 to $50,000.

Also, the deadline for submitting loan applications through one of the participating banks and lenders has been extended until Oct. 31.

The program uses recovery dollars provided to Louisiana from Congress. The loans can be used to pay rent, utilities, mortgage, employee wages and some non-construction repair expenses.