HOUSTON – (By Michelle Leigh Smith, Realty News Report) – Houston and its hurricane victims can look forward to tax breaks and massive federal funding to continue the city’s recovery, elected officials say.
An update was presented Friday afternoon at Houston’s City Hall by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Mayor Sylvester Turner.
“Sen. Cruz introduced the Hurricane Tax Relief bill last year and this means Houstonians will have more money in their pockets to get their lives back to normal,” Turner said. “This is tax season and we’ve asked for funds to continue the necessary repairs and ensure that we’re able to build stronger.”
“If you have damages to your home – usually they have to exceed 10 percent of your income – but with this new bill, you can deduct those damages on your income tax return,” Cruz explained.
He told Texans they could apply the new tax benefits even if they do not itemize on their tax return. “Everyone who suffered damage from these hurricanes should be eligible,” Cruz reiterated. “We’re working with the tax preparing offices to make sure it’s clean and simple. If you don’t know about it, you can’t claim it.”
Hurricane recovery is personal to Cruz and he shared how he toured Sen. Paul Ryan over Houston via helicopter, showing him his grandparents’ home near the Astrodome, where severe flooding wiped out house after house.
“We’re expecting the next traunch of money on January 19,” says Turner. “We need more money for the detention basins. We need more money to elevate the people’s homes and money for the buy-out programs.”
Cruz discussed a request before Congress for an additional $44 billion. “The House of Representatives passed a bill for over $80 billion. I am pressing for it to move forward. The timing of it is somewhat fluid. My hope is that we take it up swiftly and pass disaster relief cleanly. I want to keep disaster relief from getting bogged down in the many other issues in Washington. Secondly, that the $81 billion amount in the House bill, it is a strong supplemental disaster funding, but I want to be sure that Texas gets its fair share.”
“Look, the numbers can certainly change – it requires 60 votes. These issues are being negotiated betwe Republicans and Democrats. The last two traunches did not get mired down. That’s why I want it kept separately from the other independent policy fights. We need to continue the bi-partisan cooperation. The entire country took a hard hit with three major hurricanes and I’ve been working closely with the Mayor to quantify the damage here.”
“Last week, a federal agency concluded that Hurricane Harvey had a cost of over $I25 billion – the second most costly natural disaster in US History. That was enormous damage that was felt very directly by this community, by Houstonians. Texas got hit hard. It’s critical that Texas gets our fair share and the relief we are entitled to.”
When asked about news reports, which were denied by President Donald Trump, that Trump called other nations “s-hole countries” during a White House meeting, Cruz neatly side-stepped.
“The approach I’ve tried to take in Washington is to try and stay out of the nastiness and focus on substance,” says Cruz. “Every person has a value. I don’t care what their political persuasion is or where they come from.“