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Queens Chronicle

Bill: Give tax credit to Sandy aid donors

50% on contributions of $1K or more

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Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:42 am, Thu Jan 24, 2013.

In order to help businesses ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, Assemblyman Bill Scarborough (D-Jamaica) plans to introduce legislation that would give a state tax credit to those who donate money to help suffering establishments survive.

It’s called the Severe Weather Business Recovery Tax Credit and it would provide a 50 percent credit on donations of $1,000 or more to help businesses recovering from the storm.

“History shows that if these businesses cannot recover within six to 12 months they often do not reopen, or close theirs doors if they cannot return to economic viability,” Scarborough said. “There is a huge loss to the community in terms of economic activity and the loss of jobs.”

The money would go into a specially created fund overseen by the Empire State Development Corp., and be administered here through the Queens Chamber of Commerce, which Scarborough said supports the plan.

“In this way people can ensure that the funds are properly used,” Scarborough said. “We hear many stories on the news about fake charities and organizations that collect funds for those who have been impacted by disasters and instead of giving it those in need, they line their own pockets. This way they give the money to a recognized government agency instead of some fly-by-night group.”

Donations made through calendar year 2013 would be eligible for the credit. But the funds would be doled out over five years. Businesses could get up to $50,000 in aid through the plan. Scarborough said the longer distribution time frame is to allow for businesses that may not have immediately needed aid but find they are struggling a year or two later to still benefit

In order to qualify, merchants would have had to go through FEMA or tried to get a bank loan and been denied or not given enough to cover their losses.

Scarborough got the idea for the credit when he heard about a similar program that had been successful in Joplin, Mo., aiding that city after it was struck by a category F5 tornado in May 2011.

Scarborough said that bringing back storm-damaged business is essential to helping the area’s economy and to ensure that employees of affected establishments keep their jobs. He added that the generosity of New Yorkers during times of crisis is well known and through the credit their help can be rewarded.

“Hope is restored when people have jobs, and the goods and services that businesses provide,” Scarborough said, adding, “Even with insurance, bank assistance and federal and local disaster programs, our local businesses need additional assistance.”

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