As America celebrates Earth Day and Congress looks to trees as a solution to climate change, we are urging lawmakers to revise a provision in the IRS tax code on timber losses caused by natural disasters. The change would encourage faster reforestation of destroyed forests.

FLA is calling on Congress to pass legislation to fix the tax treatment of timber losses from hurricanes, tornados, ice storms, and wildfires. Under current law, forest landowners who lose all or a portion of their trees because of a natural disaster generally receive $0 deduction for the loss. That means forest landowners who lose 20- to 30-year-old trees that have contributed to climate mitigation throughout their lifespans and are at their full value receive nothing for their timber crops in deductions.

CEO Scott Jones stated: “If policymakers are going to praise trees and forests for their environmental benefits while simultaneously linking climate change to increased natural disasters, it’s imperative we remove barriers to reforestation.

“Right now, congressional lawmakers are looking at the country’s millions of acres of private working forests as a major solution to the climate change issue, but they aren’t looking at a simple fix to the tax code that would help America’s private forest landowners recover after the loss of their timber crop and provide the economic incentive to replant trees and keep their land in forest use.”

Private working forests provide 90 percent of the nation’s wood and fiber for forest products while also accounting for 75 percent of the net annual carbon sequestration.

We worked in the 116th Congress with almost 50 policymakers from both parties to introduce legislation to fix the tax issue for timber losses and plan to support such efforts in this Congress as well.

“From Georgia to California, the Pacific Northwest to the Gulf, this is a national problem that deserves a federal solution, and Congress already has the answer,” added Jones.

Read a landowner’s story: Still Picking Up the Pieces FLA Magazine Article