Tax relief for victims of severe storms flooding in Louisiana

Editor’s note: The following is a brief overview of the tax relief available to flood victims meeting certain criteria. Contact your tax preparation professional or visit www.irs.gov and, in the search field, enter ‘flooding in Louisiana’ to see the IRS publications with complete details on tax relief as well as publications on hardship distributions allowed from retirement plans and other pertinent information. Taxpayers may also request and receive free of charge copies of previously filed tax returns.

taxVictims of the severe storms flooding which took place beginning on August 11, 2016 in parts of Louisiana may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service. Following the recent disaster declaration for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the IRS announced that affected taxpayers in the parishes of Livingston, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa will receive tax relief. This was updated later to include Acadia, Ascension, Avoyelles, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Pointe Coupee, St. James, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Vermilion, Washington, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes.
Individuals who reside or have a business in these parishes also may qualify for tax relief.
The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after August 11, 2016, and before January 17, 2017, are granted additional time to file through January 17, 2017. This includes individual returns on extension to October 17, the September 15 deadline for making quarterly estimated tax payments, the 2015 corporate and partnership returns on extension through September 15, and the October 31 deadlines for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns.
In addition, the IRS is waiving the failure-to-deposit penalties for employment and excise tax deposits due on or after August 11 as long as the deposits were made by August 26, 2016.
If an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date that falls within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate the penalty.
The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.
Affected Taxpayers
Taxpayers considered to be affected taxpayers eligible for the postponement of time to file returns, pay taxes and perform other time-sensitive acts are those taxpayers who live in and those businesses whose principal place of business are located in the covered disaster area. Taxpayers not in the covered disaster area, but whose records necessary to meet a deadline are in the covered disaster area, are also entitled to relief. In addition, all relief workers affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization assisting in the relief activities in the covered disaster area and any individual visiting the covered disaster area who was killed or injured as a result of the disaster are entitled to relief.
Grant of Relief
The IRS gives affected taxpayers until January 17, 2017 to file most tax returns (including individual, corporate, and estate and trust income tax returns; partnership returns, S corporation returns, and trust returns; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax returns; and employment and certain excise tax returns), that have either an original or extended due date occurring on or after August 11, 2016 and on or before January 17, 2017. Affected taxpayers also have until January 17, 2017 to make tax payments, including estimated tax payments, having an original due date occurring on or after August 11, 2016 and on or before January 17, 2017.
The IRS also gives affected taxpayers until January 17, 2017 to perform other time-sensitive actions that are due to be performed on or after August 11 2016 and on or before January 17, 2017.
The postponement of time to file and pay does not apply to information returns in the W-2, 1098, 1099 series, or to Forms 1042-S or 8027. Penalties for failure to timely file information returns can be waived under existing procedures for reasonable cause. Likewise, the postponement does not apply to employment and excise tax deposits. The IRS, however, will abate penalties for failure to make timely employment and excise tax deposits due on or after August 11, 2016, and before August 26, 2016, will be abated as long as the tax deposits were made by August 26, 2016.
Casualty Losses
Affected taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area have the option of claiming disaster-related casualty losses on their federal income tax return for either the year in which the event occurred, or the prior year. See Publication 547 for details.
Individuals may deduct personal property losses that are not covered by insurance or other reimbursements. For details, see Form 4684 and its instructions.
Affected taxpayers claiming the disaster loss on a 2015 return should put the Disaster Designation, “Louisiana, Severe Storms and Flooding” at the top of the form so that the IRS can expedite the processing of the refund.
Other Relief
The IRS will waive the usual fees and expedite requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for affected taxpayers. Taxpayers should put the assigned Disaster Designation “Louisiana, Severe Storms and Flooding.” in red ink at the top of Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, as appropriate, and submit it to the IRS.
Affected taxpayers who are contacted by the IRS on a collection or examination matter should explain how the disaster impacts them so that the IRS can provide appropriate consideration to their case.
Taxpayers may download forms and publications from the official IRS website, irs.gov, or order them by calling 800-829-3676. The IRS toll-free number for general tax questions is 800-829-1040.