The US government and federally funded programs are available to help hurricane, tornado, flood, earthquake and other disasters, and there is also tax benefits and relief for victims. You can find more information on tax benefits and relief from the IRS Tax Relief in Disaster Situations.
As one of the millions of victims of Hurricane Katrina, because I had to do the research, you get to share in the benefit of what I found. I am not a tax expert, but I’m slowly becoming a disaster expert ;-). This is just a list of what I found – you have to do some of the work to find out if and how it applies to you.
If you are a victim of Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita, here are some things you need to know from the IRS.
- Deadlines for affected taxpayers to file any returns, pay any taxes and perform other time-sensitive acts have been postponed to February 28, 2006. In Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, this relief applies to any return due on or after Aug. 29, 2005. In Florida, where Katrina hit first, the date is on or after Aug. 24, 2005. Both individuals and businesses qualify for this special relief.
- In the hardest-hit areas — those designated by FEMA as “individual assistance areas” — the tax relief will be automatic, and taxpayers won’t need to do anything to get the extensions and other relief available.
- In areas where FEMA has determined damage is more isolated — designated as “public assistance areas” — or for other taxpayers outside the impacted area, people will need to identify themselves as hurricane victims when filing with the IRS.
- In the hardest-hit areas — those designated by FEMA as “individual assistance areas” — the tax relief will be automatic, and taxpayers won’t need to do anything to get the extensions and other relief available. In areas where FEMA has determined damage is more isolated — designated as “public assistance areas” — or for other taxpayers outside the impacted area, people will need to identify themselves as hurricane victims when filing with the IRS.
- To get a copy of any past tax reports or papers from the IRS, call 1-866-562-5227 from Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm local time, or send in a Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, with “Hurricane Katrina” written in red in the top margin of the form.
- By calling the above number, you can also request Disaster Tax Loss Kits to help you understand your tax situation and what you can do.
- To determine which level of federal and tax benefit you get, and what you need to do, see IRS Updates Hurricane Katrina Tax Relief Guidelines for Taxpayers in Four States, Relief Workers and Others Impacted and the list of states and counties affected.
- Tax relief assistance payments are usually not taxable. People in a Presidentially-declared disaster area who receive grants from state programs, charitable organizations or employers to cover medical, transportation or temporary housing expenses do not include these grants in their income.
- If your home, property, business, or rental property was damaged by the hurricane, you may be able to deduct some of your loss. Only losses not covered by insurance or other reimbursements are eligible. See Tax Topic 515 for more information about losses and theft.
- If you are awaiting a tax refund, being audited, or awaiting any other information from the IRS, and they are unable to contact you because you have relocated, call the IRS disaster hotline at 1-866-562-5227 or refund hotline at 1-800-829-1954. The IRS will ask for authentication by providing information from your last tax return, including name, address, taxpayer identification number and filing status, and a current mailing address and phone number.
Here are more forms, news, and information to help victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.
- Disaster Loss Kit for Individuals – GET THIS
- Disaster Loss Kit for Businesses
- Preparation for Disaster Loss Kit Materials: Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook, Publication 584B, Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook, and Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts
- Around the Nation – IRS disaster relief or tax provisions news specific to local areas and states
- IRS Grants Tax Relief for Alabama Hurricane Victims of Hurricane Dennis
- Deadlines for Taxpayers Affected by Hurricane Katrina Extended Until Feb. 28 – IR-2005-112, Sept. 28, 2005 — New law gives taxpayers affected by Hurricane Katrina until Feb. 28, 2006, to file tax returns and pay any taxes due
- IRS Updates Hurricane Katrina Tax Relief Guidelines for Taxpayers in Four States, Relief Workers and Others Impacted – IR-2005-109, Sept. 21, 2005 — New details help ensure those impacted by the storm get the tax relief they’re entitled to
- IRS Announces Additional Agreements to Assist Disaster Victims – IR-2005-108, Sept. 21, 2005 – NAEA and AAA-CPA join with IRS to assist taxpayers affected by Hurricane Katrina
- Retirement Plans Can Make Loans, Hardship Distributions to Katrina Victims – IR-2005-105, Sept. 15, 2005 — Victims of Hurricane Katrina and their families can take out loans and hardship distributions from their 401(k) and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans
- Katrina Relief Workers Have Until Jan. 3 to File and Pay Taxes – IR-2005-103, Sept. 14, 2005 — Hurricane Katrina relief workers have an extension of time to file their tax returns and pay any taxes due.
- 5,000 IRS Telephone Operators Register Hurricane Victims for FEMA Benefits – IR-2005-102, Sept. 14, 2005 — IRS operators are helping FEMA answer telephone calls from Hurricane Katrina victims
- IRS Increases Mileage Rate Until Dec. 31, 2005 – IR-2005-99, Sept. 9, 2005 — Optional standard mileage rates increased for the final four months of 2005
- Treasury, IRS Announce Special Relief to Encourage Leave-Donation Programs for Victims of Hurricane Katrina – IR-2005-97, Sept. 8, 2005 — Special relief supports leave-based donation programs to aid Hurricane Katrina victims.
- Katrina Victims Will Have Until Jan. 3 to File and Pay Taxes – IR-2005-96, Sept. 8, 2005 — Victims of Hurricane Katrina will have until Jan. 3, 2006, to file any returns, pay any taxes or make any deposits due
- IRS and AICPA Announce Agreement to Assist Disaster Victims – IR-2005-94, Sept. 7, 2005 — Partnership to provide assistance with tax issues at FEMA disaster recovery centers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and other disasters
- IRS Expedites Charity Applications, Urges Use of Existing Charities – IR-2005-93, Sept. 6, 2005 — Review and approval process for new organizations seeking tax-exempt status expedited in order to provide relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina
- Treasury and IRS Expand Availability of Housing for Hurricane Victims – IR-2005-92, Sept. 2, 2005 — Waiver of low-income housing tax credit rules expands the availability of housing for Hurricane Katrina disaster victims and their families
- IRS Expands Relief Area for Katrina Victims – IR-2005-91, Sept. 2, 2005 — IRS expands tax relief to victims in certain areas of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama
- IRS Grants Relief Regarding Certain Employee Plan Contributions – IR-2005-90, Sept. 2, 2005 — Relief provided in connection with certain employee benefit plans because of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina
- IRS Creates Disaster Relief Toll-Free Number – IR-2005-88, Sept. 1, 2005 — Special toll-free telephone number is for taxpayers affected by Hurricane Katrina – 1-866-562-5227, Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm local time
- IRS Urges Citizens to Seek Qualified Charities for Katrina Help – IR-2005-86, Sept. 1, 2005 — Citizens seeking to make donations to help Hurricane Katrina victims should seek out qualified charities.
- IRS Grants Tax Relief for Hurricane Katrina Victims – IR-2005-84, Aug. 30, 2005 — Taxpayers generally will have until Oct. 31, 2005, to file tax returns and submit tax payments.
- Notice 2005-73 — Summarizes and clarifies the relief previously granted to taxpayers affected by Hurricane Katrina (pdf)
- Announcement 2005-71 — Optional Standard Mileage Rates (pdf)
- Announcement 2005-69 — Disaster relief for issuers of tax-exempt bonds affected by Hurricane Katrina (pdf)
- Announcement 2005-70 — Hurricane Katrina Relief (relating to loans from retirement plans and hardship distributions) (pdf)
- Notice 2005-60— Relief from minimum funding requirements for employee benefit plans (pdf)
- Notice 2005-65 — Announcement of Rules Relating to the Temporary Operation of Ships in the Domestic Trade as a Result of Hurricane Katrina (pdf)
- Notice 2005-66 — This notice under section 7508A postpones the deadlines for certain acts performed by the Internal Revenue Service with respect to certain taxpayers affected by Hurricane Katrina (pdf)
- Notice 2005-68 — Treatment of Certain Amounts Paid to Section 170(c) Organizations under Certain Employer Leave-Based Donation Programs (pdf)
- Notice 2005-69 — Relief from Certain Low-Income Housing Credit Requirements Due to Hurricane Katrina (pdf)
- FAQs About Your Tax Relief as a Victim of Hurricane Katrina
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