A Silver Lining: Hurricane Tax Relief from the IRS

A Silver Lining: IRS Offers Hurricane Tax Relief for Victims 

This year has provided one of the most active hurricanes seasons in recent memory. Harvey, Irma and Maria all left behind swaths of destruction from wind and water in their collective wakes.

It’s been a source of study and analysis for scientists and debate about climate change, but nothing but hardship and loss for thousands of others.

Fortunately, one silver lining in the midst of these natural disasters has been hurricane tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service, which reacted quickly to provide relief for victims of some of the most destructive hurricanes to hit the United States and the Caribbean in many years.

For details on whether you qualify for hurricane tax relief, consult with the IRS or a certified tax preparer. 

Hurricane Tax Relief for Texas

Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast along the Gulf of Mexico in August. While the hurricane-force winds caused damage in relatively unpopulated areas, Harvey then stalled near the coast. The subsequent days of rain dropped as much as 50 to 60 inches of water on Houston, the fourth largest city in the country, and surrounding areas.

The resulting floods damaged thousands of homes and businesses. While the final cost is still being calculated, it is expected to be one of the most expensive hurricanes in U.S. history, perhaps the most expensive.

The IRS moved quickly to offer tax relief for people affected by Harvey. That includes people in more than 50 different Texas counties along the coast and inland areas where flooding caused significant damage.

More may be added as the federal government continues to tally the extent and amount of damage.

The tax relief includes:

  • Tax filing and payment deadlines that started on August 23 have been moved back to Jan. 31, 2018
  • This includes the Sept. 15 and Jan. 16, 2018, deadlines for making quarterly estimated tax payments. The deadlines for both are now Jan. 31, 2018.
  • A waiver of late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after Oct. 31.

Taxpayers do not have to contact the IRS for these relief measures, as the agency has records of those who live in disaster areas and automatically files for filing and penalty relief. They do advise, however, that those who get an IRS notice of being late for payments go ahead and contact the agency.

Hurricane Tax Relief for Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico

Hurricane Irma struck Florida in early September, causing damage across the state. It then moved into Georgia, where strong winds and rain also inflicted damage.

The IRS has granted tax relief for resident and businesses in both states, as well as in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. They mirror those given for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Within just two weeks, Hurricane Maria ripped across Puerto Rico, knocking out power over the entire island. As of mid-October, 80 percent of the island remained without power.

Damage also was widespread, with both homes and businesses damaged by winds and flooding.

The IRS also has granted relief to resident of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, with extensions of deadlines and relief from penalties that mirror those granted for victims of Harvey.

For those in the affected areas, it’s advisable to consult with a tax professional on the details of the tax relief and whether you qualify. For those who suffered through these destructive hurricanes, it’s a welcome benefit as they deal with the costly and emotional aftermath.