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February 01, 2024 | In The News

Hurricane relief bill sponsored by Congressman Steube heads to the Senate

10 TAMPA BAY NEWS — A bill to expand the child tax credit and give tax breaks to some businesses is on its way to the Senate. The U.S. House approved the $78 billion package Wednesday, which includes tax relief for those impacted by natural disasters like Hurricane Ian.

“Any time you can get assistance, it will ultimately help,” said Mike Austin, owner of Austin’s Restaurant in Northport.

Businesses like Austin’s are still rebuilding even more than a year after Hurricane Ian caused havoc in Southwest Florida.

“It’s just been a struggle. We still have repairs on the roof for the building,” said Austin.

In the city of Sarasota, it’s the same narrative for the few who sustained significant damage, such as at the buildings on the Sarasota County Fairgrounds.

“We rode the storm out here. We watched the wind come through a rip one of the roofs off the building behind me — peeled it off and threw it to the south fence, and then, it also damaged our office building,” recalled Rory Martin, president of Sarasota County Fairgrounds.

Along with homeowners, affected businesses frustrated by insurance delays have had to take on the cost of repairs.

“We self-funded about a half-million dollars of repairs on our property here, mainly because we were able to host the power company here and provide catering services during the aftermath of the storm,” said Martin.

“There have been businesses since Ian that are permanently closed. There have been people who lost everything and had to leave the area because housing costs have escalated so high and so rapidly. There are businesses like mine that can’t really get staffing,” added Austin.

Now, relief is on the way as the House passed a tax package that included a disaster relief bill sponsored by Florida Congressman Greg Steube. It covers every natural disaster in the country since 2020 like the wildfires in California and Maui, the Ohio train derailment and Hurricane Ian.

“Any American that was affected by any presidentially declared natural disaster will be able to deduct those expenses that they incurred from their taxes from that tax year,” said Congressman Greg Steube.

At more than $100 billion, Hurricane Ian is the third most costly storm in US history and costliest for the state of Florida. If it becomes law, the relief would extend to about 45 states.

“If there’s any relief of any sort, that would bridge some of that; it would be helpful, especially to small business,” said Austin.

“Anything that we could get that would help replenish some of the money out of our pocketbook and help us further our mission to offer our facilities to the community,” said Martin.

If the Senate gives the bill a nod, too, it’ll head to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign it into law.