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Rep. Cole Opposes Tax on Storm Shelters; Co-Sponsors Legislation to Reverse IRS Ruling

January 27, 2005
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole announced today he was a co-sponsor of two pieces of legislation that will clarify ambiguity in the tax code to ensure taxes will not be levied on FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grants used to build storm shelters.

"The IRS recently ruled that federal funds used to build storm shelters would be taxable income. We are doing everything we can to reverse this decision before tax time this year," Congressman Tom Cole said. "I am co-sponsoring two bills introduced yesterday that if passed will not require recipients to pay taxes on these grants. I will continue to work to make sure the legislation that moves forward includes all grant recipients, even those granted before 1999."

Both pieces of legislation introduced yesterday will add clarification to the tax code to ensure grants for storm shelters will not be taxed. Congressman Foley's legislation will cover grants made in taxable year 2004 and forward. Congressman Cole is also a co-sponsor of legislation introduced by Congressman Bobby Jindal (LA-01) that has language more specific to include all grantees made, "before, during or after enactment of this act." 

"I will continue to work with my colleagues, the IRS and the Ways and Means Committee to ensure enacted legislation covers all awardees dating back to 1999," Congressman Cole said. "I will not be content until I have confirmation from the IRS that this tax will not levied on any individual who receives this grant. "

In December, Congressman Cole became aware of an IRS ruling that determined all FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grants to build storm shelters would be taxable as income. This ruling would require the several thousand Oklahomans who received this grant to pay the tax. The grants averaged $2,000 per reward.

"It does not make sense for the government to tax federal money used to build storm shelters that will help save lives during severe weather," Congressman Cole said.