WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded the Senate passage of the Virginia Beach Strong Act, a bill that would make contributions to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund tax-deductible. The legislation cleared the Senate unanimously following Monday’s passage in the House of Representatives and will now head to President Trump’s desk for his signature.
“Following the tragic shooting in Virginia Beach, folks from across the Commonwealth came together to provide financial relief for victims and families by donating to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund,” said the Senators. “Unfortunately, those donations aren’t considered tax-deductible because the IRS generally disallows a deduction unless the donations go towards a charitable class of sufficient size, as opposed to a small group of individuals. But with Congress passing the Virginia Beach Strong Act, we can now fix this error with a stroke of the President’s pen.”
U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“I am glad to see swift Senate passage of the Virginia Beach Strong Act and I thank Senators Warner and Kaine for their continued support of our Virginia Beach community following the May 31 mass shooting,” said Rep. Luria. “Six months later, many families of the victims are still facing financial hardships related to the shooting, in addition to the devastating loss of a loved one. I remain hopeful that President Trump will join this bicameral, bipartisan effort to support these families by signing into law the Virginia Beach Strong Act.”
On May 31, 2019, a gunman opened fire at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, killing 12 people and injuring four. Soon after, the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund was created to support the wounded victims and the families of those killed. However, because the fund was set up exclusively for the benefit of those affected by the tragedy, it violates a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable tax rule that requires a charitable organization to serve a charitable class of persons that is indefinite or of sufficient size. Accordingly, charitable funds can’t be earmarked for specific individuals. As a result, donations to the fund are not currently tax-deductible for those making the contributions. Once signed into law, the Virginia Beach Strong Act would rectify this flaw by classifying any contribution made on or after May 31, 2019 as tax-deductible.
Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with Rep. Luria have been fierce advocates for the victims and families affected by this mass shooting. In June, Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote to the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to verify that victims and families were not being taxed on the contributions they were receiving. In August, the President signed into law legislation the Senators introduced to rename a Virginia Beach post office after Ryan “Keith” Cox, a longtime public utilities employee who, alongside other victims, sacrificed his own life to save others during the shooting. Additionally, the Senators secured unanimous passage earlier this year of a Senate resolution honoring the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach shooting.