Lawmakers file legislation to provide property tax relief to wildfire victims

(NASHVILLE), January 17, 2017 — Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville), Senator Steve Southerland (R-Morristown), Representative Dale Carr (R-Sevierville) and Representative Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville) announced today they have introduced a bill authorizing local governing bodies, by a two-thirds vote, to prorate real and personal property damaged by the November wildfires. The lawmakers filed Senate Bill 114 / House Bill 52 this morning in Nashville.

“This bill would provide a measure of tax relief to owners for property damaged in the disaster,” said Senator Overbey. “It is modeled after similar legislation which granted tax relief to victims of the 2010 floods in Nashville.”

“Our Gatlinburg community and surrounding areas have suffered tremendous loss and hardship due to the tragic circumstances surrounding this natural disaster,” added Rep. Carr. “By passing this property tax relief bill, it is but one small thing we can do to help in this troubling time. We, as your voices in Nashville, will continue to seek ways to provide the means necessary for our community to survive, rebuild, and come back even stronger and better than before.”

The legislation calls for prorating the 2016 tax assessment for a homeowner’s real property or business owner’s personal property, if the property was damaged as a result of a FEMA certified disaster between September 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016. It would not become effective until approved by a two-third vote of the local governing body of the county and/or city in which the property is located.

If the tax computed for the 2016 tax year has been paid prior to the proration, the victim would receive a refund under the bill. The legislation is retroactive to January 1, 2016. The owner must provide the assessor a listing of the destroyed, demolished or substantially damaged personal property for which the tax relief is sought. The owner would also be required to apply to the assessor for the relief by September 1, 2017 to be eligible.

Sen. Southerland said, “We want to support Sevier County in any way we can.” He said local lawmakers are continuing talks with legislative leaders and the Haslam administration regarding additional relief for victims and cash-strapped local governments which suffered losses as a result of the fires to aid in the recovery.

“This legislation will help speed up the recovery process of our community,” said Rep. Farmer. “East Tennesseans are strong people, and I look forward to seeing our area bounce back from this disaster over the coming months.”

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