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Chinese Drywall Homeowners in Three Florida Counties Get Tax Breaks

Dec 22, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Florida Chinese drywall homeowners along the state's Treasure Coast are getting breaks on their property taxes to help relieve some of the financial burden created by the defective wallboard.  Florida's Treasure Coast comprises St. Lucie, Martin and Indian River counties.

The financial damage suffered by Chinese drywall homeowners is enormous.  Property damage resulting from corrosion caused by drywall fumes likely is not covered by insurance.   Chinese drywall remediation  could cost as much  $100,000 per home.  Many families have been forced out of their  homes, and have been paying both mortgage and rent payments. They may also face big medical bills because of health problems that could be linked to the drywall's fumes, as well as other miscellaneous costs.  

Efforts have been made on several fronts to provide Chinese drywall homeowners with some type of financial help.  For instance, the IRS has said they may be eligible for a casualty-loss deduction on their federal taxes if they can prove they suffered “sudden, unusual and unexpected” damage because of the defective wallboard.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development is also working on a plan that could make funds from the Community Development Block Grant program available to homeowners.  Municipalities in several states with Chinese drywall problems have also taken steps to reduce the property tax burden faced by such homeowners.

According to TCPalm.com, the property values of 327 homes and condominiums with Chinese drywall have been reduced because appraisers say they might be worth significantly less than their purchase price.  Depending on a home's value, such reductions could amount to savings between $700 to $5,000.

Still, even all of these options likely won't cover the staggering costs that Chinese drywall victims have incurred, and will likely continue to incur for some time.  That's why so many have chosen to become plaintiffs in the Chinese drywall litigation currently underway in federal court in New Orleans.  Bellwether trials are expected to begin in the Chinese drywall litigation in January. The first will involve a set of cases from Virginia and Taishan Gyspum, a Chinese drywall manufacturer that is  actually controlled by the Chinese government. As we reported earlier this year, a default judgment has already been issued against Taishan for failing to respond to lawsuits.

Earlier this month, a massive class action lawsuit was filed against another major Chinese drywall manufacturer, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd, in that litigation.  That lawsuit alone involved nearly 2,100 plaintiffs in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.


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