Reps. Cook and Thompson Introduce Legislation to Encourage Earthquake Ready Homes
Washington, D.C. – This week, Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced the Earthquake Mitigation Incentive and Tax Parity Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation to exclude earthquake mitigation incentives from being taxed at the federal level. California has already made these incentives tax-free at the state level.
The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services established the California Residential Mitigation Program to help residents protect their homes from earthquake damage. Their Earthquake Brace + Bolt program provides homeowners up to $3,000 toward a retrofit, which costs between $3,000 and $5,000 on average. A residential seismic retrofit strengthens an existing house, making it more resistant to earthquakes by bolting the house to its foundation and adding bracing around the perimeter of the crawl space. In order to maximize the value of the incentive, this legislation would make the incentive tax-free at the federal level.
Rep. Cook said, “This legislation would bring federal tax law into sync with California law to encourage residents in earthquake-prone regions to take preventative measures to safeguard their homes. Current federal law penalizes Californians with taxes, which leaves families and structures less safe. We need to eliminate these tax penalties and this bill is a step in the right direction.”
Rep. Thompson said, “The South-Napa earthquake damaged more than 1,500 homes in 2014, making it clear we need to do everything we can to help residents prepare for disasters. These tax incentives will encourage homeowners to make the necessary retrofits to protect their homes—reducing damage from earthquakes, saving lives, and saving the government money in the long run. California has already seen the value of these retrofits, which is why they are exempt from state taxes. It is time for the federal government to follow suit.”
Glenn Pomeroy, CEO of the California Earthquake Authority, said, “Californians who take the steps to retrofit their older house by registering and qualifying for an Earthquake Brace + Bolt grant, and then doing the work to strengthen their house before the next damaging earthquake, should not be penalized by being taxed on their incentive grant”
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.