Ohio Rep Introduces Bill To Provide Tax Relief To East Palestine Residents

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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Republican Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson introduced a bill on Wednesday to provide tax relief to residents affected by a train derailment that cast a toxic chemical plume over an eastern Ohio town.

The East Palestine Tax Relief Act would exempt residents and businesses from paying taxes on any relief payments received after a Norfolk Southern train derailed on Feb. 3, the bill reads. The train carried toxic chemicals including vinyl chloride which were released into the environment days after the derailment through a controlled burn ordered to prevent an explosion. (RELATED: ‘Demanding Action’: East Palestine Residents Send List Of Demands After Train Derailment)

The bill qualifies the derailment as a disaster under section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 which reads that “qualified disaster relief payments and qualified disaster mitigation payments shall not be treated as net earnings from self-employment, wages, or compensation subject to tax.” Compensation includes payment provided by the federal, sate or local government, Norfolk Southern or “any subsidiary, insurer, or agent of Norfolk Southern Railway,” according to the bill.

“Residents and businesses in East Palestine are focused on getting back to normal following the train derailment. Their lives have been upended by no fault of their own,” Johnson said in a press release. “The East Palestine Tax Relief Act will ensure those thrust into this unfortunate situation will not have to pay taxes on any relief payments they rightfully received. I urge my colleagues to support the village of East Palestine by taking this legislation up for a vote in the coming weeks.”

The bipartisan bill would affect any payments received on or after the Feb. 3 derailment, according to the bill. It was co-sponsored by Republican Ohio Reps. Brad Wenstrup, Jim Jordan, Bob Latta, Max Miller, Warren Davidson, Mike Turner, Troy Balderson, Dave Joyce, Mike Carey and Democratic Ohio Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes.

“The people of East Palestine have been through enough already. They should not be forced to shoulder the tax burden of disaster assistance, too,” Miller told the Daily Caller News Foundation.“The Ohio delegation is working together to deliver relief to our state.”

“Taxing relief payments adds insult to injury for those most severely impacted by the train derailment in East Palestine,” Balderson told the DCNF. “I’m proud to support this legislation, led by Congressman Bill Johnson, helping to lift the burden for these families.”

Carey told the DCNF that East Palestine “is facing a tragedy that many Americans can hardly comprehend.”

“The East Palestine Tax Relief Act will ensure the residents and businesses in East Palestine will not face undue taxes related to disaster relief payments,” he said. “I commend Rep. Johnson for introducing this bill and for prioritizing the health and safety of his constituents.”

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