There is a bill under consideration to give a tax credit to residents of New York State who lose property due to bed bugs in their homes.
New York State Assembly Bill A10081, sponsored by Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF), is summarized as follows:
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: The bill will amend section 606 of the
tax law to add subsection qq:
1. Allowing an individual to receive a credit against the personal tax
imposed by this article equal to fifteen percent of qualified personal
property replacement expenditures and not to exceed $750.
2a. The term “qualified personal property replacement expenditures”
means expenditures made for the replacement of personal property due to
b. Such qualified expenditures shall include but not be limited to
furniture, rugs or other home good that may be damaged by bedbug infes-
c. Such qualified personal property replacement expenditures shall not
include interest or other finance charges.
3. Certification for credit allowance. The commissioner shall determine
the procedure for certification for the credit authorized pursuant to
JUSTIFICATION: The recent bedbug epidemic has brought legitimate suffering to New Yorkers statewide. Victims have contracted bedbugs from neighbors, hotel stays and a variety of other means. In addition to social stigma, the afflicted have experienced economic hardship as a result of the loss of furniture, bedding, clothing and other belongings that must be discarded during the extermination process. Bedbug infestations are not covered by most varieties of renters or homeowners insurance and this bill would offer a modest tax credit to assist affected New Yorkers.
As Rosenthal says in an announcement on her Facebook page about this bill,
The bedbug tax credit offers financial assistance to those who have fallen victim to this misfortune.
In effect, this tax credit would provide 15% of the cost of replacing $5000 worth of household items which are tossed out.
The Summary refers to items “damaged by a bed bug infestation,” whereas the Justification refers to items which “must be discarded during the extermination process.”
The terminology here is a bit confusing. Often, items which are thrown out are not so much damaged by bed bugs (e.g. smeared with feces), but thought to be infested by them.
Many times people will choose to throw out items, even though no expert has claimed they “must be discarded.” Pest professionals themselves do not all agree on which items should be tossed and under which circumstances.
One concern I have with this bill is that it reinforces the idea that people should throw out beds and other items, therefore encouraging people to discard items which could otherwise be treated and kept. Doing so inevitably leads to neighbors becoming infested.
Even if items are marked as “infested by bed bugs,” in New York City they will be claimed by someone, further spreading the problem to additional homes. If they are items which could otherwise be treated, then tossing the items out was not even necessary. The taxpayer is not benefiting much if they get a 15% credit on $5000 worth of items which are thrown out, even if a small number of things really did need to be discarded.
As much as I think people need financial assistance with battling bed bugs, I am not sure this tax credit, as written, is a good idea.
On the other hand, I would definitely like to see a tax credit for those who have to pay for bed bug supplies, bed bug preparation and professional treatment, all of which can be very expensive to tenants, homeowners, and landlords alike.
A tax credit for purchasing steam cleaners, ClimbUp Insect Interceptors, Packtites, and bed bug encasements, and for paying for bed bug preparation such as laundry, and for bed bug treatment would help people save their belongings and avoid passing bed bugs on to trashpickers and buyers of secondhand goods.
Rosenthal is also sponsoring a second New York State Assembly Bill (A10356) which is concerned with bed bugs, which would force landlords to disclose infestations to prospective renters. As you’ll see in this post, I am much more positive about the bed bug disclosure bill.
I welcome your comments about the bed bug tax credit bill below.