A year after the Station Fire scorched the hillsides of Los Angeles County, Assemblymember Anthony Portantino's (D-La Cañada Flintridge) tax relief bill for residents who suffered losses in the fires and subsequent mudslides has been signed into law. Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 1662 today and it will go into effect immediately.
AB 1662 will allow victims who lost homes and other property in natural disasters throughout the state to receive tax benefits. As an urgency measure that won the necessary two-thirds majority support in both legislative houses, this bill will provide immediate tax breaks to those individuals and businesses who lost property in last year's fires and mudslides. This bill was originally authored for the foothill communities affected by the Station Fire but Assemblymember Portantino expanded AB 1662 to include natural disasters in eleven California counties.
"This bi-partisan disaster relief plan became one of the few disaster bills to make it through the Legislature and on to the Governor's desk," remarked Portantino. "The bill itself had nine lives and initially failed to pass the Senate. We were able to resurrect the needed relief measure for the 44th Assembly District and other parts of the state by working across party lines.
The Station Fire that began August 26, 2009, became the largest fire in L.A. history, roaring across the hillsides and steep terrain in the Angeles National Forest for months. When it was finally out, the toll was staggering – two fire fighters killed, 160,000 acres consumed, 209 structures destroyed - 89 of which were homes. Heavy rains in early 2010 caused mudslides and flash flooding that destroyed or damaged another 86 homes.
"After touring the mudslide damaged homes with Governor Schwarzenegger, I was hopeful that he would see the merit behind helping our neighbors and I am very pleased that he signed this bill," commented Assemblymember Portantino.
Here's how AB 1662 works: if your home or other property was damaged due to wildfires or other natural disasters, you will be able to claim disaster losses on your state income taxes by filing an amended return for 2009. The bill also allows individuals whose homes were destroyed by the wildfires and mudslides to retain their "homeowners exemption" while they are in the process of rebuilding.