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Sessions on derailment aid continue

Congress considering tax relief bill

EAST PALESTINE — While Congress continues to consider a bipartisan tax deal that includes tax relief for East Palestine following the derailment, the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber, Norfolk Southern and HD Growth Partners have teamed up to host a series of tax information sessions to educate the community on the tax treatment of financial assistance from Norfolk Southern to individuals.

The sessions will provide information on local, state and federal tax law, as well as information on the accounting of payments received. The sessions will be 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the American Legion Post 31, 140 N. Walnut St.

The proposed tax bill, introduced as the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024, would make any derailment assistance received by residents from Norfolk Southern tax exempt.

If the bill is passed, tax changes would be applied retroactively to the beginning of 2023. In January, the bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 357-70, and the legislation is now awaiting consideration in the U.S. Senate. The deadline to file taxes is April 15, and the sessions will discuss the considerations of filing now or waiting closer to the deadline.

The village of East Palestine and the state of Ohio already have taken measures to ensure any derailment assistance is nontaxable. Ohio made the first move in July when State Rep. Monica Robb Blasdel, R-Columbiana County, secured a deduction for taxpayers impacted by the East Palestine derailment from their state income tax and rail safety measures. Robb Blasdel pushed for these amendments into the state budget, which was approved by the General Assembly and signed into law in July.

East Palestine followed suit in September by passing an ordinance to make sure no one is required to pay village income taxes on any payments they receive for derailment-related expenses or losses.

Norfolk Southern reports that approximately $21 million went directly to more than 4,500 households as reimbursements and support. While the tax laws regarding those payments are currently being addressed in Congress, under current tax law, those payments may be taxable. 1099-MISC forms have been issued as required by law, and families in receipt of those forms should be paying close attention to this legislation before filing their tax returns. Residents who received derailment benefits received 1099 MISC forms from the railroad. Those payments are taxable under the current tax code.

selverd@mojonews.com

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