An extraordinary year finally comes to a close for islanders, and I am pleased to be the bearer of glad tidings for many who own or operate businesses on Hilton Head Island.
As news, facts and rumors swirl around on social media, in newspapers, and from our local news stations about the fallout from Hurricane Matthew — the damage done, the ongoing recovery efforts, and the conflicting, controversial, and often disheartening stories of financial distress many businesses are suffering from circumstances out of their control — there is a little-known beacon of light to which some may steer toward, and from which may discover a little treasure of funds, legally.
Back in 2011, in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe that crippled the New Orleans economy inside and out, Congress came up with a bill that would help businesses deal with loss of revenue due to similar natural disasters that leave communities helpless and devastated.
Known as H.R.2080 - Evacuees Tax Relief Act of 2011, the purpose of the bill is to “amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals either a credit against income tax or a deduction for expenses paid or incurred by reason of a voluntary or mandatory evacuation.”
Detailed reading explains exactly what this means to the local business owner and can result in, A) tax credits for the time you lost money due to hurricane evacuation and recovery efforts and B) massive headache and blurred vision.
If “B” hits you before “A,” as it did for me, then you can call an expert in the field of tax consulting, someone like Joe Timbo of JR Timbo Associates LLC, and ask, “What the heck does this bill mean, Joe? Can I get money back if insurance wouldn’t pay for the tree downed in my driveway?”
To which Joe might chortle or bust a gut laughing, depending on whether he’s enjoying a glass of Chianti at the time, and then go on to explain that, no, it is not to help you get your revenge on the greedy insurance companies who have worked out a scam with meteorologists who name weather systems (like the windstorm that knocked off a tree branch that spidered our skylight and can’t be fixed because, well, they named her Hermine).
“No Carmen, the H.R. 2080 bill is for corporations and management companies like golf courses and hotels that lost big revenue after the evacuation ended due to repairs, employees not able to work, product not being delivered, that kind of thing.”
“Oh,” said I. So much for helping out Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim.
“But wait,” said Joe, sensing my let-down, “that’s not the end of it for the little guy.”
“Do tell, wise Tax Man with glad tidings for all weary Hurricane Matthew people,” I said.
Joe continued to explain that, if small businesses in strip plazas were struggling to pay rent for the month of October when they were closed, their landlords could qualify for the tax credit under the act because the shop owners were closed, which should have a trickle-down effect on their lease terms.
So, there you have it. Who’d have thought a left-wing nut like me would come up with a big-business Christmas idea for Hilton Head? Not Joe Timbo, that’s for sure.
Now, in closing, it’s important I add the disclaimer, that I am strictly a writer of human interest — anecdotal stories — and while I have tried to dot my T’s and cross my I’s with due diligence, it may behoove readers to check with a professional.
It’s the sort of thing you need to make a list and check twice.