Past Wildfire Victims Can Exclude Settlement Amounts From Their Taxable Income After Recent Signing of 2 New Bills

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On Sep. 29, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1249 and Senate Bill 1246.

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A gavel with cash.ungvar/Adobe Stock

The Governor issued a signing message indicating that,

These bills allow wildfire victims to exclude from their taxable income, any amounts received from settlement claims resulting from the 2015 Butte Fire, 2017 North Bay Fires, 2017 Thomas Fire, 2018 Woolsey Fire, or 2018 Camp Fire." [i]
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Tree ridge in flames during the 1018 Woolsey Fire, California, US.Peter Buschmann/W.Carter/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Newsom continued,

I believe this is a righteous policy that will provide wildfire victims with the full value of the settlements they receive to compensate them for the losses and distress they suffered from these devastating fires." [ii]
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A DC-10 Air Tanker in smoke below a red sun over the 2018 Woolsey Fire in California.Peter Buschmann/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

In addition to his support for the bills, Newsom asserts,

I expect that building the associated revenue reductions of over $200 million into the budget framework is equally supported. In the fuure, measures such as this should be included as part of the Budget Act." [iii]

The 2018 Camp Fire began on Nov. 8, 2018, burned 153,336 acres and obliterated 18,804 structures. The Woolsey Fire started in Woolsey Canyon in a "complex of industrial research and development belonging to Boeing in the Santa Susana Mounra." [iv]

One thousand six hundred forty-three structures were destroyed in the fire. Southern California Edison was found to be linked to the Woolsey Fire in 2018, which led, in part, to the $2.2 billion settlement agreement reached. [vi]

Watch the video below of a woman capturing flames as she flees during the Woolsey Fire.

Like Southern California Edison, PG&E Corp executives and directors reached a $117 million settlement in a lawsuit in which they were accused of "lax oversight of the utility's safety measures [before] the 2017 North Bay and 2018 Camp Fires, two of California's most destructive wildfires." [v]

Watch the video below for a detailed look at how the North Bay fires spread over six hours.

References

[i] Gavin Newsom, Signing Message of Assembly Bill 1249 & Senate Bill 1246 to members of the California State Senate, (Sep. 29, 2022)

[ii] Id.

[iii] Id.

[iv] CAL FIRE News Release, CAL FIRE Investigators Determine Cause of the Camp Fire, (May 15, 2019)

[v] Jonathan Stempel, PG&E officials reach $117 mln settlement over California wildfires, (Sep. 29, 2022)

[vi] Bloomberg, SoCal Edison reaches $2.2 billion settlement for Woolsey fire, (Jan. 25, 2021)

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