Colorado Flood Relief Bill in Congress

Submitted by Jeff Kahn

On November 19th, Longmont’s Sean Cronin testified before the Senate Committee on Finance, Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight’s hearing entitled “Tax Relief after Disaster: How Individuals, Small Businesses, and Communities Recover.”  Mr. Cronin is the Executive Director for the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District.  (Watch Mr. Cronin’s testimony) He spoke to the challenges faced by farmers and mutual ditch companies as they work to rebuild important water infrastructure damaged by the 2013 flooding and the benefits that would be offered by adoption of the National Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2014., currently under review in the House and Senate. The full text of Mr. Cronin’s testimony is available here.

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet introduced Mr. Cronin saying “our agricultural community was hit hard by the floods and we need to ensure that it has every resource available to rebuild.” Bennet identified “several changes we can make to help, including updating a law that is hindering farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to finance water irrigation infrastructure repairs.”

The the National Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2014 would provide tax relief for individuals and companies impacted within a 2012 or 2013 federally declared disaster area. If enacted, the Act would: (i) apply to mutual irrigation companies located in a federal disaster area declared after the 2013 Colorado floods. This includes Boulder, Larimer and Weld Counties; (ii) allow these companies to amend their 2012 and 2013 tax returns to avoid recognizing income from the sale, lease or exchange of real property, including water and any sale or exchange of stock or contracts for the delivery of water; and (iii) remain in effect through the 2018 tax year.  Unfortunately the Act was not included with the year end package of bills enacted by Congress. Its prospects moving forward in the new Congress are doubtful, but we will keep abreast of developments.  If the Act is enacted, Companies that were not tax exempt in 2012 and 2013 and, thus, filed federal income tax returns for those years should consult their accountants and see if amended returns are in order.