Cindy Hyde-Smith cosponsors Disaster Reforestation Act

Published 2:18 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) is supporting legislation aimed at fixing the federal tax code that unintentionally penalizes forest landowners who lose timber due to natural disasters.

Hyde-Smith has cosponsored the Disaster Reforestation Act (S.217), a bipartisan bill that would allow forest landowners to deduct the full value of timber destroyed during disaster events in the same way the tax code treats farmers and other agriculture crops.

Under current law, timber rendered unmarketable after a disaster is still considered a taxable asset.

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“So many of the private forest owners in Mississippi and across the country are small, family-owned businesses that face financial ruin after floods, wildfires and other disasters,” Hyde-Smith said. “We’ve needed this tax code change for a long time, and it is even more apparent now as Mississippi forest owners try to recover from the terrible drought and beetle infestations killing their trees. I hope this is the bill to get it done.”

Hyde-Smith introduced similar legislation in the 116th Congress.

In the case of the loss of uncut timber from fire, storm, other casualty, or theft, the Disaster Reforestation Act would establish a basis for determining the amount of the deduction, which may not be less than the excess of the appraised value of the uncut timber determined immediately before a natural disaster, over the salvage value of the timber.

With more than 19 million forested acres, timber and forest products represent a major component of Mississippi’s agricultural economy, generating over $3.37 billion in income and employing more than 67,000 workers. An estimated one-third of forest land in the United States is held by family owners.

Introduced by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), the Disaster Reforestation Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), and John Kennedy (R-La.). The bill is pending in the Senate Finance Committee.