Fishermen advocating for no tax on BP settlement moneyApr 8th, 2013 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: news
At a meeting last week of the St. Bernard Parish Council, life-long shrimper George Barisich, President of the United Commercial Fishermen Association urged the council to pass a resolution that supports the exemption of commercial fishermen
from paying taxes on BP settlement money.
After the St. Bernard council unanimously passed the resolution, Barisich said he
would be taking the cause to Plaquemines and other parishes throughout the region to garner similar support.
The intent of the resolution is to give a push to State and Federal delegation to
consider exempting victims of the oil spill of the commercial fishing industry from paying taxes on any settlement money. Before their vote Barisich explained to the council that as of now fishermen are expected to get paid out 40 percent of their loss for eight years.
But when the settlement money is doled out to fishermen that amount will be taxed the standard income tax rate of 35 percent.
“The money, if it stays in our hands, we can spend it down here,” said Barisich.
“They’re telling you you’re getting paid for a 40 percent loss so the fishermen are assuming all the risk, if we get that 35 percent that we have to give President Obama, that money will help us stay down here.”
Currently, only property damage and personal injury settlements are tax free. That
presents a problem for fishermen seeking money for lost wages, and those with oyster leases. Since an oyster lease holder is not the explicit owner of the property, they are required to pay taxes on settlement money, something that surprised Plaquemines oysterman Ronnie Kennair.
“We thought that since we were filing a property damage claim that we weren’t
going to be taxed, but when we got the money we paid 15 percent in federal taxes
and 15 percent in state taxes,” Kennair explained. “Come later this year we’ll have to pay income taxes on it [settlement money].”
“We’re starting it in St. Bernard, and then traveling to Plaquemines and up the state,” said Barisich at the meeting.