Storm-Related Tax Deductions Confound Rita Victims
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
NPR's Jeff Brady reports.
JEFF BRADY: Wanda Jinks(ph) lives in a modest house outside Lake Charles, Louisiana. Her ex-son-in-law lives an hour away in Johnson's Bayou.
WANDA JINKS: He's one of my kids. Him and my daughter are divorced, but he's still one of my kids.
BRADY: He came to live with Jinks after Hurricane Rita destroyed his house.
JINKS: It had seaweed all around it. It was just unbelievable. You couldn't help but cry when you saw it, you know?
BRADY: He had seaweed in his house?
JINKS: Oh yeah, seaweed in the hose and all around the house. We had to walk on a, to get in there to look we had to walk on a probably four or five foot mound of seaweed that was just all around his house.
BRADY: That's stunning. How close is he to the water?
JINKS: Probably a mile.
BRADY: Jinks says her ex-son-in-law stayed with her for a little over two months. She'd heard there was a $500.00 tax deduction available for those who housed hurricane evacuees, but she got a surprise when she asked about it.
JINKS: They told me only Katrina. People that housed people for Katrina, not for Rita. Rita is a forgotten storm. It really is. It's sad.
BRADY: Katrina victims have been homeless for months, and many had to move far away. But Brady says evacuations didn't last as long for Rita victims.
KEVIN BRADY: For the most part, people came back pretty shortly, and they stayed with family a lot. So that was not seen as high a priority as being able to cover all the damage, being able to deduct all the damage that occurred to people's property.
BRADY: Another congressman, Charles Boustany from Louisiana, says he welcomes any help, but he thinks those who housed Rita evacuees should be able to claim the same tax deduction as those who housed Katrina evacuees.
CHARLES BOUSTANY: The only other remedy would be to try to make something retroactive, and we, in the Louisiana delegation, have had some discussions about trying to introduce a bill to create some retroactivity with this. But it'll be a steep hill to climb.
BRADY: Jeff Brady, NPR News, New Orleans.
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