Sen. Ted Cruz visits flood-ravaged Galveston County, promises more federal aid for residents

By Jake Reiner - Reporter

HOUSTON - Saturday morning Sen. Ted Cruz visited the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management to not only talk about the federal government's accomplishments in the wake of Hurricane Harvey but to find out what they can improve upon.

“No official, state or federal, has been more involved in the recovery of Galveston County than Senator Ted Cruz,” said County Judge Mark Henry. 

Cruz addressed reporters before meeting with county officials, championing the two federal disaster relief bills worth roughly a combined $51 billion and the Harvey relief tax bill, which benefits homeowners and local businesses. 

Now, Cruz is hoping the Senate can pass another $81 billion in relief funds without partisan interference and he's advocating that Texas get a huge chunk of it.

"We need to make sure Texas gets our fair share," Cruz said. "Given the magnitude of the damage here in Texas, we need to make sure those resources are directed to where there was real and serious hurricane damage."

Back to the tax relief bill.

One of the big reasons Cruz is making the rounds is to make sure Texans affected by Harvey take advantage when they file their taxes.

"For the residents of Galveston County, you need to know about this because are billions in tax relief directed to Texans that we have passed into law but you have to know about it and claim it on your taxes in order to get those benefits," Cruz said.

There are four major provisions to the bill if your home or business was damaged by Harvey. 

One includes deducting property casualty damages from your taxes without being subjected to the ordinary limit of 10 percent of your income before you qualify. As long as your insurance hasn't already paid for it, even if you don't itemize you can deduct the damages from your taxes.

The second provision deals with retirement. The bill allows homeowners to withdraw from retirement savings, such as 401K or IRA, to be used to rebuild the home without being subjected to the ordinary 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. This provision lasts through 2018.

The third provision, which ended in 2017, encouraged people to donate to charities that directly assisted Harvey victims by exempting the normal limits on individual and corporate charitable givings.

The fourth provision benefited small businesses. Employers who had their businesses impacted by Harvey, but still paid its employees despite them not coming into work, were given tax credits.

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