Bill Providing Tax Relief for Disaster Victims Passes Legislature

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Legislation to help businesses recover from natural disasters recently passed the legislature with unanimous bipartisan support. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), will provide tax relief by allowing impacted businesses to defer tax payments without additional costs. The idea for the bill was brought forward by Board of Equalization Chairwoman Fiona Ma in the aftermath of the 2015 Valley Fire in Lake County.

“When residents and businesses are impacted by disasters, the state needs to step up to help them recover. Giving these businesses additional time and flexibility in their tax deadlines is the least the state can do to help the recovery process,” said Assemblymember Bill Dodd. “I’m proud to help lead these efforts with Senator Mike McGuire and Chairwoman Fiona Ma. I urge Governor Brown to sign AB 1559 as soon as possible, so taxpayers struggling from recent wildfires across the state can get relief.”

“Lake County has seen tremendous devastation in the wake of the Valley Fire last year, and now the Clayton Fire and small businesses need assistance in the aftermath of these disasters. We’re grateful to partner with Assemblymember Dodd and BOE Member Ma to ensure local business owners have some peace of mind and needed tax relief during this recovery period,” Senator Mike McGuire said.

Over the past several years California has experienced some of the most destructive fires in our states history. In 2015 Assemblymember Dodd’s 4th Assembly District contained nearly 58% of the total extinguished acreage by Cal Fire across the entire state. In Lake County alone, the Valley Fire destroyed nearly two thousand structures over a 23 day period, ultimately becoming the 3rd most destructive fire in California history. The 2016 wildfire season has already devastated communities across the state, with the Clayton Fire in Lake County destroying hundreds of buildings.

“The 2015 Fire Season was historically tragic, with the Butte and Valley Fires especially catastrophic for communities across Northern California, and I have been grateful to work with Assemblymember Bill Dodd on passing AB 1559, which will provide tax relief for businesses affected by these kinds of disasters,” said State Board of Equalization Chairwoman Fiona Ma, CPA. “The last thing a business owner needs to worry about is having to pay taxes for a business that just flooded or burned down. Assemblymember Dodd introduced this bill in response to last year’s fire season, but every community across California that has ever experienced a disaster understands why this measure is important and common sense when it’s time to recover and rebuild.” 

Under this legislation, the Board of Equalization could grant filing extensions on a quarterly basis to victims of gubernatorially declared disasters for sales tax, use tax, and other taxes. The bill now moves on to the Governor’s desk, where if signed, the bill will take immediate effect statewide. This could provide relief to businesses impacted by fires from Lower Lake to Big Sur to San Bernardino County. The bill would also allow the BOE to help victims recover from future major fires, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

Assemblymember Bill Dodd represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Lake, Solano, and Colusa Counties.