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Storm shelter tax credit bill advances out of committee

Brandon Moseley

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Tornado damage near Beauregard, Alabama, on March 3, 2019. (Chip Brownlee/APR)

The House Ways and Means Education Committee gave a favorable report to an income tax credit for Alabama homeowners to build storm shelters on Wednesday.

House Bill 428, the storm shelter tax credit bill, is sponsored by State Rep. Joe Lovvorn, R-Auburn. Lovvorn is a professional firefighter, who earlier this year responded to the fatal tornado touchdown that killed 23 people in Lee County.

The committee voted to adopt the substitute.

“The Department of Revenue suggested some language on how to approve the credit,” Lovvorn said. “The State EMA (Emergency Management Agency) will issue certificates. The certificates will be turned in with the tax return. When they hit the cap, they will stop issuing certificates.”

“How long will that last, and what is the cap?” asked State Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur.

Lovvorn answered that it would cost $2 million a year for three years.

State Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Education Committee.

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Poole said the bill would pay up to half the cost of installing a storm shelter

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Lovvorn said that cap on an individual is $3,000, or half the cost — whichever is lesser.

“Not everyone has the means to fund a storm shelter,” Lovvorn said. “If you contribute (to someone else’s storm shelter) you can get 75 percent of the cost or $4,500 — whichever is less.”

Lovvorn told the committee that HB428 gives homeowners a tax credit to install a storm shelter and, for people who can’t afford one, people who donate money to help others get one can get a tax credit for their donation.

The committee gave HB428 a favorable report.

Since accurate statistics began being kept in the 1940s, more people have been killed by tornados in Alabama than in any other state.

Poole announced that the committee will have a public hearing on the education budget on Tuesday and then will meet again on Wednesday to vote on the Education Trust Fund budget.

Alabama has two budgets, the ETF and the State General Fund.

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