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Bill Would Help Timber Farmers Weather Storm Losses

News / FBNews February 24, 2020

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A Farm Bureau-backed bill would help timber farmers recover from natural disasters by increasing the amount of financial relief provided by the casualty loss tax deduction.

The Forestry Recovery Act of 2019 (H.R. 1444) would allow timber farmers to “continue their businesses, encourage the reforestation of timberland, and help rural communities maintain their economic base,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), the bill’s sponsor.

Under current law, timber farmers’ deductions for natural disaster-related losses are limited to the adjusted basis value of the timber, which is often near zero, providing little help to landowners claiming a casualty loss tax deduction.

The new legislation will allow forest landowners to take a casualty loss tax deduction of up to fair market value of their timber when it is destroyed by a catastrophic disaster. The tax deduction is especially important because timber growers do not have access to crop insurance and private insurance is often too expensive and provides inconsistent coverage.

A forest landowner who claims the enhanced casualty loss deduction would be required to reforest after five years. Reforestation will help maintain forests that provide products and outdoor recreation areas that are the economic base of many rural communities.

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