Articles

Hurricane Florence – IRS Relief

In Accounting & Finances, Business, Taxes on October 3, 2018 by Sufen Wang

IRS Gives Hurricane Florence Victims Tax Relief and Warns Watch Out for Scammers

Residents of the Carolinas have been hit hard by Hurricane Florence – not just by the main storm itself, but with continued flooding, and the economic aftermath of a hurricane that damaged everything in its path. Donation efforts are underway to help the victims, and the IRS is also doing its part to ensure that the last thing people affected by the storm worry about right now is their taxes.

 

Upcoming Tax Deadlines Extended for Federally Designated Disaster Areas

The IRS tax relief applies to any FEMA-designated area. As of right now, this only includes parts of North Carolina, but if other regions are added (and they should be), the taxpayers living there will automatically get the same payment and filing relief. Affected taxpayers have until 1/31/19 to file certain individual and business tax returns and to make tax payments, such as:

  • Quarterly estimated income tax payments usually due by 9/17/18.
  • Quarterly payroll and excise tax return normally due on 9/30/18.
  • Businesses with extensions, such as calendar-year partnerships whose 2017 extensions ran out on 9/17/18, will get the extra time as well.
  • Taxpayers whose 2017 return-filing extension was due to run out on 10/15/18 also have until the end of January.

For details on these and other situations that qualify for the IRS disaster relief, be sure to visit the official IRS.gov Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief for Individuals and Businesses page.

Process for Receiving IRS Disaster Tax Relief and Claiming Losses

Luckily, this tax relief is automatically provided by the IRS – hurricane victims definitely shouldn’t have to call up the IRS to chat and figure out what’s up with their taxes. However, if an affected taxpayer DOES end up getting an IRS notice, such as for a late payment penalty, they WILL have to contact the tax agency at the phone number noted on the notice to get the penalty cleared up.

The aforementioned relief just deals with extensions – there’s also the issue of claiming disaster-related losses. In brief, taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area who had unreimbursed/uninsured disaster losses from Hurricane Florence can either claim them on their 2018 return filed next year, or their 2017 return.

Watch Out for Scammers Trying to Capitalize on the Storm’s Destruction

As countless people step up to help the hurricane victims, there are other people out there who are downright awful by trying to make money off the chaos of the catastrophic situation. On 9/18/18, the IRS sent out a warning about natural disaster-related scams. These schemes that mine money and personal information from donors usually start out with the scammer directly contacting you via social media, phone, e-mail, or even in-person. The thieves may impersonate a charity, operate fake websites with names that sound like well-known real charities, or have a fake charity – which you can bet doesn’t donate any proceeds to the disaster victims.

Sometimes scammers will even claim to be working on the IRS’s behalf to help victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds, and unfortunately, the individuals already victimized by the hurricane end up also becoming victims of tax fraud. Always always be sure to reach out to the IRS directly to ensure that you’re talking to the official agency.

Rely on Official Charity and Tax Resources

To help avoid scams, potential donors can use the official IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search. This tool helps you find and verify legitimate charities. And no matter what, when giving money, always remember to use a check or credit card instead of hard-to-track-cash, and NEVER give out your personal info to anyone soliciting a donation.

If you’ve been affected by the hurricane and need more information on disaster-related tax issues, remember to visit the IRS disaster relief page at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-in-disaster-situations or call the IRS Special Services Line directly at 866-562-5227. Hurricane Florence victims – we’re keeping you in our thoughts and doing everything we can to help you.

Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountancy
www.sufenwang.com
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793

Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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