Warner and Kaine introduce ‘Virginia Beach Strong Act’ in Senate

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WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Virginia’s U.S. senators have introduced a bill that they hope will help provide financial relief to the families of victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting.  

Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine said the “Virginia Beach Strong Act” would encourage donations to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund by making them tax deductible. 

The House version of the bill was introduced by Rep. Elaine Luria in September.

In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach, community members created a fund to help the victims and their families.

“What they did was name the victims in the fund, and that’s different from what has happened in other communities,” Warner said.

But Senator Warner said due to a technicality, the donations made are currently not tax-deductible.

George Washington University professor Joseph Cordes said a problem arises when funds are setup to benefit specific people instead of a cause.

“People will set up nonprofits and essentially the benefits really go to family members or specific individuals, and the IRS wants to prevent that from happening,” Cordes said.

Senator Warner is proposing a bill allowing people who donate to victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting to use it as a write off.

“To make sure the $4.5 million from donors to try to help the victims and their families receive the proper tax treatment,” Warner said..

Warner said he’s hopeful the bill will pass by the end of the year. Cordes believes the legislation is well-intentioned, but may face criticism because it only applies to one situation.

“One could as a public policy matter decide to make an exception for specifically those kinds of funds, but that would be better done at a national level,” Cordes said.

Lawmakers can’t undo the tragedy, but supporters hope to provide financial relief to those helping the grieving families.

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