WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after their legislation to treat Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund donations as tax-deductible contributions was signed into law:
“Following the horrific shooting in Virginia Beach, we were heartened to see the community come together to support victims and their families by helping alleviate some of the financial burden of the tragedy,” the Senators said. “Our bill will now make sure that the community’s generosity is treated appropriately by making donations to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund tax-deductible. We are thrilled that Congress and the White House were able to put any partisanship aside and rapidly get this bill signed for the sake of Virginia Beach and the Commonwealth.”
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, donors are not able to receive a tax deduction for their contributions. The Virginia Beach Strong Act rectifies this flaw by classifying any contribution made on or after May 31, 2019 through June 1, 2021 as tax-deductible.
Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) have been fierce advocates for the victims and families affected by the May 31st shooting. Earlier this month, the Senators secured congressional passage of this legislation and in June, they 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.