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Southwest Florida taxpayers upset after Congress said Ian is not a qualified disaster for taxes

Posted at 4:44 PM, Feb 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-27 21:04:30-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Nearly five months after Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida, taxpayers told Fox 4 they are angry Congress’s failure to designate the near-Category 5 storm a ‘qualified disaster’ means they cannot deduct additional income off their taxes this year. 

“Nobody has said a word about it, and I'm going ‘oh my goodness,’” said Ft. Myers resident Connie Mumm. “It's awful. I mean I'm on a limited income anyway. A retired teacher. And I have some social security. We have all these expenses our insurance doesn't pay for.” 

Congressman Byron Donalds, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Rick Scott have all not responded for comment when asked why Congress did not designate Hurricane Ian a qualified disaster. 

Certified Public Accountant Eric Higginson told Fox 4 taxpayers still wanting to claim storm casualty losses will have to make itemized deductions. Fox 4 Investigates first reported earlier this month Ian damage can only be deducted if there have been no FEMA or insurance reimbursements. 

“If Ian was a qualified disaster then you would take your standard deduction, and then you would also be able to take your casualty deduction above $500. That would include whatever losses you sustained as a result of the hurricane minus your insurance reimbursements, minus your FEMA reimbursements, and then

minus $500,” said Higginson. 

Higginson also said taxpayers will now have limits on what income they declare, known as an Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI. 

“The biggest difference is with a qualified disaster there is no AGI limit,” said Higginson. “You don't have to limit your deduction to 10% of your adjusted gross income, to the amount over that. You would take your standard deduction and whatever was on top of that."  

A hypothetical situation Mumm feels leaves many Southwest Florida taxpayers stranded. 

“It's scary because when hurricane season comes again what if we haven't got this paid for? What about the people who don't know how to do it? Or don't have the energy?” asked Mumm.