One of the many issues left unresolved in the first half of the 108th Tennessee General Assembly was a measure to give tax breaks to victims of last year’s heavy flooding in Washington County.
State Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, had sponsored a bill to provide state sales tax refunds to Dry Creek residents who are rebuilding or repairing homes damaged in the Aug. 5 flood.
The legislation, however, was flagged by officials with the state Department of Revenue, who feared the measure would set a precedent for other such natural disasters that do not qualify for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Because the dollar amount of the damages suffered by Dry Creek residents didn’t meet the threshold for federal relief, current policy stipulates those residents don’t qualify for state tax refunds.
It is the federal disaster recognition that triggers such state relief. That policy needs to be reviewed.
While the loss of homeowners in Dry Creek might seem a trifle in comparison to the multi-million dollar damages seen in the 2010 Nashville flood, it is nonetheless extremely devastating to that small community.
That’s why we encourage state officials to establish a contingency fund for handling relief requests such as that for the Dry Creek community, and to develop a policy for sales tax refunds that applies fairly to all cities, towns and communities in Tennessee.