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The national law firm Fisher & Phillips LLP announced today that a foundation it established following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is helping its attorneys and staff affected by the recent devastating floods in Georgia. The firm is currently accepting assistance applications from the Georgia employees of Fisher & Phillips who suffered damage.

Chairman and Managing Partner Roger Quillen said: “The attorneys and staff of our firm who were not directly affected by the flooding have displayed the same desire to aid their co-workers as they did when Hurricane Katrina damaged or destroyed the homes of our people in Louisiana. It does my heart good to see how our extended law firm family comes together in a time of need.”

Robert Christenson, chair of the firm’s Employee Benefits Practice Group, pointed out that any employer can create a charitable fund to provide immediate disaster relief assistance to its own employees. When properly organized and operated, donors receive a tax deduction for contributions to such a fund, and recipients of assistance do not pay income tax on money they receive. Employers have been permitted to set up such funds since the 9/11 disaster. Following that tragedy, Congress enacted the Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act of 2001, which allows an employer to establish a 501(c)(3) private foundation for the purpose of providing timely disaster relief assistance to its employees and their families (an “Employer-Controlled Foundation”). Disasters such as Katrina and the Georgia floods are covered by the Act.

Christenson said: “A foundation such as ours gives employees the opportunity to aid their colleagues who have been affected by a disaster or tragedy. Our attorneys are ready to assist any company that wants to move quickly to establish its own foundation to help during this time of need. We will put together the organizational documents, help with the tax filings, and explain the law to ensure that employers properly establish their foundations.”

The Fisher & Phillips Foundation provides money for such things as living expenses and uninsured repairs. All assistance is purely “needs based” and a committee ensures that the funds are properly distributed. Following Hurricane Katrina 17 attorneys and staff received a total of $77,000 from the foundation. The firm donated $60,000 to start the fund and lawyers and staff donated an additional $22,000. The firm has committed to donate an additional $40,000 to the fund as needed and the foundation is also accepting donations from attorneys and staff to help the Georgia flood victims.


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