FILE - lumber, timber, wood, trees

More than $134 million in timber tax credits are available for forest landowners and others impacted by Hurricane Michael, the Department of Revenue announced.

It is the second round of aid that has been released to help the timber industry since the storm hit the state in October 2018. 

The storm cost Georgia about $2.5 billion in damages, according to University of Georgia economists. Many forest areas in South Georgia were impacted by the storm, according to reports. 

Lawmakers filed a bill in November 2018 that allows those who lost product or revenue during Hurricane Michael to apply for state income tax credits.

Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, whose district was impacted by the storm, said he wants citizens to take advantage of the aid.

“Our area is still feeling the effects of Hurricane Michael and our citizens should utilize any assistance by our state agencies or federal government on their road to recovery,” he said.

Timberland owners or investors in 28 counties in southwest Georgia can apply for an income tax credit of up to $400 per acre to cover damage or restoration efforts that resulted from the storm. 

The credit is also refundable and transferable. 

If the amount of the credit is more than the amount of the taxpayer’s tax liability, he or she can apply for a refund. The credit can also be carried over to other tax years, for up to 10 years.

A taxpayer can sell the credit for at least 60 percent of the credit amount. It can also be processed by pass-through entities such as tax brokers.

Perry Clements III, a registered Georgia forester, said many landowners have not applied for the tax break.

“The process is actually not complicated, and we have seen through our own experience that these funds are designed to compensate for the losses incurred and for funding the reforestation of the damaged timber,” Clements said in a statement. “We encourage landowners to seek this very important assistance so that together we can get the forests back in production.”

The Department of Revenue will be accepting applications up until Dec. 31 for the timber credit.

Rural investors can also obtain tax breaks through the Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Tax Credit through the Department of Community Affairs for investing in agriculture in rural communities.

Rural communities, areas with populations of 50,000 or fewer, have fallen behind the rest of the state in economic growth.

Staff Writer

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.