Disaster relief

Hurricane season on the East Coast runs from June 1 through Nov. 30th, and “[t]he 2016 Atlantic hurricane season might be the strongest in years,” reports CBS news.  It’s important for property owners to know their state’s position on property tax relief after a big storm. Many states offer benefits to homeowners to ease some of the burden from property damage caused by severe storms and other natural disasters.

Floridians are all too familiar with hurricane season. Just last week, the Citrus County Chronicle reminded Citrus County homeowners of the importance of communicating with the property appraiser’s office while rebuilding property damaged by storms “to ensure any rebuilt property meets the requirements of Florida Statutes … and to ensure the rebuilt property does not result in an increase to capped assessed value.”  

Additionally, Florida’s homestead exemptions may not be available if the homeowner’s property is uninhabitable after a storm and the property is no longer considered a primary residence. The Chronicle notes that the owner of the homesteaded property must notify the “property appraiser’s office of their intent to rebuild and live in the property as their primary residence after the rebuild or repairs are complete.” The homeowner may maintain their homestead exemption on the residence as repairs are being completed, so long as they properly file and no homestead exemption claims are made for any other property.

New Jersey homeowners are still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. New Jersey law allows property owners who have sustained substantial damages to have their property assessments adjusted for depreciation of value. New Jersey law provides that the resident must notify the assessor of the damage and the assessor will determine the value of the property considering the damaged value. New Jersey also offers its citizens a sales tax exemption on labor and materials used in capital improvements to include new construction and installation of storm doors and windows. Generally, residents pay a 7 percent sales tax on purchases of repair and maintenance services. However, residents who hire contractors to perform repair or rebuilding work that results in a capital improvement may be entitled to an exemption.

New York also offered tax relief for property taxes to residents following Hurricane Sandy. In an announcement posted on the website on April 23, 2014, Mayor de Blasio announced that tax relief would be created to assist homeowners who rebuilt or repaired their homes after Hurricane Sandy, by authorizing “New York City to enact a local law granting a partial abatement of real property taxes.” Prior to this relief, “New York City residents who merely restored a building to its condition prior to the storm, faced an increase in their property’s assessed valuation and an increase in real property taxes.”

The destruction left behind by hurricanes and tropical storms may include roof and siding damage, fallen trees, power outages, even sand in the living room.  Property owners should check with the local assessor on tax relief benefits available. The cost of rebuilding and repairs can leave you completely blown away.  

Continue the discussion on LinkedIn: What type of property tax relief does your state offer for storm and natural disaster damage?

For more information about state tax issues, sign up for a  free trial on Bloomberg BNA’s Premier State Tax Library.