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Bill offering financial relief to Virginia Beach mass shooting victims passes US House, Senate

If signed into law, donations to immediate family members of victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting are tax-deductible.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A bill that would make it easier for families of victims of the May 31 Virginia Beach mass shooting to receive needed financial support has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

It now heads to President Donald Trump's desk.

Rep. Elaine Luria introduced the Virginia Beach Strong Act.

Following the May 31 mass shooting, the City of Virginia Beach create a fund to help victims, survivors, and their families. Due to a technicality in the definition of charitable beneficiaries in the tax code, donations to this fund will likely not be considered tax-deductible without congressional action.

RELATED: New memorial mural at Virginia Beach Rudee Loop to honor victims of May 31 tragedy

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Luria said the Virginia Beach Strong Act is a bipartisan and bicameral bill that would ensure that donations to immediate family members of victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting are tax-deductible. It would apply retroactively, making any contribution on or after May 31, 2019, tax-deductible.

“May 31, 2019, was a day that has forever changed Virginia Beach, and we will always remember the 12 wonderful people we lost that day,” Congresswoman Luria said. “In the immediate aftermath of our community’s darkest hour, we experienced a selfless outpouring of financial support for grieving families. I am thankful the House has advanced my effort to help families of victims receive the financial assistance they need.” 

“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,” Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner said. “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.”

View the legislation below:

Just before the vote, Congresswoman Luria spoke on the House Floor. Here's her transcribed remarks:

Thank you, Madman Speaker.

Today, I rise in support of my bipartisan and bicameral bill, H.R. 4566, the Virginia Beach Strong Act.

Just over six months ago, our Virginia Beach community suffered a devastating tragedy. On May 31, 12 wonderful people lost their lives in a mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

During our great city’s darkest hour, we showed the world the strength and resolve that makes us Virginia Beach Strong. We saw first responders heroically running into Building 2 - sacrificing their safety to save others, doctors working long hours to provide victims with expert care, and many other displays of courage.

May 31, 2019 was a day that will change Virginia Beach forever. We will always remember the 12 individuals we lost that day and their irreplaceable contributions to our Virginia Beach Strong community. My heart continues to grieve for those who lost their lives, their families, and everyone who loved them.

Today, many families of the victims are still facing financial hardships related to the shooting, in addition to the unfathomable loss of a loved one. In the aftermath of May 31, the City of Virginia Beach established a fund to help victims, survivors, and their families. Unfortunately, a technicality in the tax code means that these donations will likely not be considered tax-deductible. That’s why I introduced the bipartisan Virginia Beach Strong Act.

The Virginia Beach Strong Act would make it easier to help bring urgently-needed support to our community’s grieving families. This bipartisan bill would ensure that all donations made to immediate family members of the victims on or after May 31 will be considered tax-deductible. It is narrowly written so it does not make any broader changes to the tax code or the qualifications for 501(c) status.

Today, we all have the opportunity to make a profound difference for families that have been through unimaginable pain following the Virginia Beach mass shooting. I want to thank my colleagues within the Virginia delegation for their support and I urge all my colleagues in to vote for H.R. 4566, the Virginia Beach Strong Act, and yield back. Thank you.