In recent years, more and more homeowners in north-central and eastern Connecticut have discovered that their home foundations are crumbling due to a mineral called pyrrhotite in the stone aggregate used to pour their foundations. In the course of the last two years, I have visited many affected homeowners, attended community meetings, and met with town officials and state legislators from the affected areas. The high cost of repairs for homeowners, the prevalence of the problem in our region, and potential economic impact to the state require a comprehensive response, and I have consistently called for such a collaborative, all-hands-on-deck approach to this crisis that includes local and state officials, federal agencies, and private industry stakeholders.
Courtney speaks to a homeowners group about crumbling foundations in 2015
What I am Doing
On November 22, Congressman John Larson and I announced that the IRS had approved our request for a "revenue procedure," a guidance document that allows homeowners with crumbling foundations to deduct the cost of repairs from their federal taxes as a casualty loss. In the months leading up to this decision, we discussed this problem with key federal officials, including former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, who made it clear that federal agencies understand the deep impact of this problem. This guidance allows homeowners to deduct the cost of repairs made to pyrrhotite-related damage on returns and amended returns filed moving forward. Homeowners can read the guidance here and consult with their tax preparer to determine whether their repairs qualify.
In August 2016, I received confirmation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that federal grant programs including the Community Development Block Grant and the HOME Investment Partnership program could be used to support housing remediation costs in communities affected by this issue. Connecticut already receives funding through this program annually to support housing initiatives across the state, and some of the funding could be targeted to support our region's response. I have worked extensively with state legislators and the state government and HUD staff to share information and assist in using this funding to alleviate the burden of crumbling foundations.
In addition, in September 2017 the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed three amendments I authored with Congressman Larson. These amendments would support these efforts with the IRS and HUD, as well as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which could issue standards for pyrrhotite content in residential construction to help prevent a similar pyrrhotite-related problem in the future. While the amendments have not become law, this vote was the first time a chamber of the U.S. Congress expressed support for assisting Connecticut homeowners.
The response to this crisis must address the central problem of damaged homes as well related issues, including questions regarding property-casualty policy changes, outstanding mortgage debt held by homeowners, and the impact of this problem on municipal budgets. I remain committed to investigating every possible source of federal assistance that may be available to our local homeowners who need help, and I will continue my constant communications with state and local officials to develop the comprehensive solution this crisis requires.
As the state coordinates further assistance and information for homeowners, my office is always available as a resource for eastern Connecticut constituents. Please feel free to call my office at 860-886-0139 or email me with any questions.
Resources for Homeowners
- Click here to read the IRS's guidance for homeowners with crumbling foundations looking deduct the cost of repairs from their federal taxes
- If your home may be affected by crumbling foundations, you can file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection here.
- For additional information or questions, contact the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection at 1-800-842-2649 or email email@example.com.
- The Department of Consumer Protection has also issued a warning to homeowners to be wary of scams to repair or replace faulty concrete. I urge consumers to take precautions before making any payments or signing contracts--read more here about ways to avoid scams.
- Click here to read the Connecticut Insurance Department's notice directing insurers not to cancel homeowner's policies as a result of concrete foundation issues.
- Click here to read the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection's brochure for homeowners.
- In 2016, the Connecticut General Assembly passed, and Governor Malloy signed, Public Act 16-45, which allows homeowners with crumbling foundations to adjust their property assessments. Call your town assessor for assistance with this process. Click here to read the law.
- Some municipalities in the affected region have decided to waive local building and permitting fees associated with construction and repairs to homes with crumbling foundations. Call your town officials for further information on your town’s policies.
More on Crumbling Foundations
U.S. Reps. Joseph D. Courtney and John B. Larson say they’re optimistic that homeowners with crumbling foundations will be provided tax relief for repairs following a meeting Monday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The congressmen met with Mnuchin and Secretary for Tax Policy David Kautter at the Treasury Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss their request for an IRS “revenue procedure” — a guidance document that could allow homeowners to deduct foundation repair costs from their federal taxes.