Southwest Florida after Congress said Yang is not a tax disaster

FORT MYERS, Florida — On Monday, a day before 5 months after Hurricane Yang, taxpayers in southwest Florida told Fox 4 they were unhappy that they couldn’t deduct damage from Hurricane Yang from their taxes.

Connie Mumm was one of those voices.

“No one has said a word about it and I’m leaving, oh my god,” Mumm said.

On Monday, that silence worried Mumm, whose home was hit by Yang after Congress failed to declare the hurricane a “qualified disaster.”

Tax expert Eric Higginson told Fox 4 that since Congress has never done this on top of your standard deduction, you can’t now add another deduction called an accident deduction if Yang cost you more than $500.

“If Yang was a qualified disaster, you would take your standard deduction and then you could also get an accident deduction above $500. This will include all the damages you incurred as a result of the hurricane, minus your insurance claims, minus your FEMA claims, and then minus $500,” Higginson said.

On Monday, without further deductions, Mumm said she had plenty of money.

“It’s terrible, I mean I still have a limited income, a retired teacher and I have some social security. We have all these expenses that our insurance does not cover,” Mumm said.

Higginson said that if Congress allowed Yang to become a qualified disaster, that would also mean no limits on what taxpayers declare, the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limit.

“The biggest difference is that in the event of a qualified natural disaster, there is no AGI limit. You must not limit your deduction to 10% of your adjusted gross income, up to an amount in excess of that. You would take your standard deduction and anything beyond that,” Higginson said.

A hypothetical situation in which Mumm believes many SWFL taxpayers are stranded as the next hurricane season approaches.

“It’s scary because when hurricane season hits again, what if they don’t get paid for it? What to do for those who do not know how to do it? Or no power? Mumm asked.

The question Fox 4 took to Congressman Byron Donald’s office along with Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rick Scott to ask why Congress didn’t name Yang a qualified disaster.

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