Incentivizing Residents to Fight Wildfires with Income Tax Credits
Evelyn Cook, and the president and certified public accountant of Cook CPA Group, recently discussed
Assembly Bill 266, which aims to offer tax credits for homeowners who install attic vent closures on their property, in an article on foxand houndsdaily.com: Assembly Bill 266 (AB 266), presented by Assemblymember Steven Choi, aims to offer tax credits for homeowners who install attic vent closures on their property. These tax credits will specifically apply to the Personal Income Tax Law, and will not apply to business tax or commercial properties. If passed, the bill would provide a credit in every taxable year between January 1, 2020, to January 1, 2025.
The Bill's Background
The purpose of the attic vent closure bill is to prevent the frequency of residential fires in a post-Camp Fire California. Camp Fire, of course, claimed the lives of at least 85 people, devastated 14,000 homes, and scorched 153,000 acres of land just north of Sacramento.
Attic vents are required by the majority of building codes in California, and these vents are designed to eliminate any excess moisture that can infiltrate not only the attic space, but also the crawl space of a home.
Why Attic Vent Installations are Worth Incentivizing
The issue that the installation of attic vent closures aims to solve is the possibility of embers entering a home during a wildfire. If the embers from a wildfire continue to rain on a home that does not have an attic vent closure, it is more likely that an ember could enter through a vent and ignite a fire.
A wildfire does not even have to make contact with a home for this scenario to occur; recent evidence shows that homes are, in fact, being destroyed by embers entering attic vents.
The average cost to retrofit an attic vent closure can be cost-prohibitive, depending on the materials used and the costs of labor. AB 266 requires one-eighth inch mesh closures to be installed on the attic vents of a residential home. If you qualify as a taxpayer who can claim the tax credit, you can receive a credit of up to $500 per taxable year. If your credit happens to exceed your tax, you may be allowed to carry over the credit to the following taxable year.
AB 266 Benefits Communities, Not Individuals
This $500 tax credit that can be applied to tax returns is reasonable, inexpensive to carry out, and will help keep neighborhoods safer when the next wildfire strikes. The bill doesn't have much downside.
This tax credit is obviously temporary, but homeowners and communities will be safer in the long run. Additionally, this credit can only be claimed on one residential property per taxable year; it won't drain Sacramento's resources going forward.
Catastrophic wildfires continue to plague California, and this bill will benefit firefighters, families, and communities alike.