ATLANTA — A pair of government attempts to help people who suffered financial losses during Hurricane Michael last October made announcements recently.

The U.S. Small Business Administration reminds small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations that Aug. 12 is the filing deadline for federal economic injury disaster loans in Georgia as a result of Hurricane Michael.

The disaster declaration includes Colquitt County and  94 other Georgia counties.

Under this declaration, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster. With the exception of aquaculture enterprises, SBA cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers, or ranchers.

The loans are for working capital and can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 3.675 percent for eligible small businesses and 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, and terms up to 30 years.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at Disasterloan.sba.gov.

Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can be downloaded from the SBA’s website at sba.gov. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The second announcement applied to owners of timber who suffered damage within the 28-county state-declared disaster area. Colquitt is one of those counties.

A second timber tax credit application period has begun for forest landowners who missed the first sign-up that closed on May 31. Landowners who applied and were pre-approved in the first round need not reapply.

The tax credit applies to landowners who plan to replant or restore acreage for the production of forest products or ecological services. The tax credit, which is refundable or transferrable, is designed to assist in offsetting up to $400 per acre of timber fair market value losses.

Applications for the Hurricane Michael Georgia Timber Tax Credit are being taken online by the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) at https://dor.georgia.gov/documents/timber-tax-credit through December of 2019.

"There are specific requirements for landowners who are seeking this form of assistance," said Georgia Forestry Commission Forest Management Chief Scott Griffin. "One of the biggest pieces of information needed is the fair market value of timber, before and after the storm. A qualified professional, such as a registered consulting forester, can make this determination. Landowners can also call on their local GFC forester for other assistance as they work through the process.”

The program doesn't affect participation in state or federal cost share programs, such as the Forest Debris Management Program or the Emergency Forest Restoration Program.

After the application period, the DOR will notify landowners of their pre-approval status, and the credits can be claimed after the replanting and/or restoration occur.

"Replanting the required portion of their land will allow participants to claim their credits," said Griffin. "And new language added by the state legislature allows landowners another option to claim credits through the restoration of each acre.”

Restoration could include practices such as debris management, timber thinning, prescribed burning, preparation for natural regeneration and other activities that mitigate the timber damage. The options to replant and/or restore are available to those who applied during the first round and no modification to the original application is needed.  Landowners have until the end of 2025 to complete the replanting and/or restoration and claim the credits.  

Go to the Storm Damage Resources page of the GFC website (GaTrees.org) to see the Replanting & Restoration Guidelines, Frequently Asked Questions document and other helpful information concerning the timber tax credit.

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