Louisiana-Specific Benefits In Tax Bill

Disaster relief high on the list

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The tax bill that won passage this week in Congress has provisions that members of Louisiana's congressional delegation say specifically benefit Louisiana.

"Disaster tax relief is huge," Sen. Bill Cassidy said Thursday in an interview.

That relief includes a provision allowing victims of the 2016 south Louisiana floods to amend their tax return for that year to deduct their losses.

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"This is the same tax treatment being given to victims of Harvey and Irma and Maria," Cassidy said. "We thought it only fair that it apply to people in Louisiana."

Cassidy said estimates are that it will bring $500 million into Louisiana.

The bill also waives a 10 percent penalty for people who withdrew money from 401(k) retirement funds to pay for 2016 flood damage.

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Cassidy, a member of the Senate's energy committee, touted a provision that would increase offshore oil revenue for gulf states through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. He said that could mean another $100 million for coastal restoration efforts.

"This would allow our state to invest in priorities such as coastal restoration and hurricane protection," Sen. John Kennedy said in an emailed statement, hailing the the bill's passage.

Kennedy and Cassidy joined their Republican colleagues in the state's House delegation — Reps. Steve Scalise, Garret Graves, Ralph Abraham, Clay Higgins and Mike Johnson — in voting for the tax bill, saying its reductions in taxes for families and predicting economic growth.

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Rep. Cedric Richmond, the lone Democrat in the delegation, opposed the bill, saying most of the benefits accrue to the wealthiest taxpayers.

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