Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
Local lawmakers say President Obama's $60.4 billion aid package for Sandy relief is a step in the right direction. But they also say New York and New Jersey's storm victims need tax relief.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) are co-sponsoring legislation that would provide tax deductions for disaster-related expenses and tax credits for businesses and homeowners.
“It means if you have to pay to have your home repaired, or have someone come and pick up the debris or cut down badly damaged trees, those expenses can be deducted from your taxable income,” said Schumer.
The legislation includes 21 temporary tax law changes.
The provisions include both tax deductions for expenses incurred because of the storm; tax credits for disaster-damaged business-owners who continued to pay employees; and a waiver of the 10% tax penalty that would otherwise apply to individuals who withdrew made early withdrawals from their retirement plan to pay for Sandy damage.
Menendez said taxpayers from this region have been there for the rest of the country when disasters have struck.
“Now it's New Yorkers and New Jerseyans, families like these who need help and this package will provide the opportunities for them to regain their lives, regain their businesses and help us recover,” Menendez said.
The tax relief proposal is separate from the $60.4 billion supplemental funding the President announced for Sandy-stricken states on Friday.
The Senators plan to push both pieces of legislation before the end of the year so that neither one becomes tied to fiscal cliff negotiations.