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How to help Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts

Special tax relief for West Virginia summer storm victims

As Hurricane Harvey was bearing down on the Texas Gulf Coast, the Internal Revenue Service was providing some tax relief for victims of earlier natural disasters.

Severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides in late July caused major damage in parts of West Virginia. Now some of those affected residents get extra time to tax care of tax responsibilities.

Mudslide car house

Tax time, penalty relief: The IRS says that individuals who live or have a business in the West Virginia counties of Harrison, Marion, Marshall and Wetzel have extra time to meet certain tax deadlines that fall/fell between July 28 and Nov. 29. The new deadline is now Nov. 30.

This includes taxpayers who got an extension until Oct. 16 to file their 2016 tax returns. The extra time also covers quarterly estimated tax payments due on Sept. 15, as well as quarterly payroll and excise tax returns that businesses normally must file on July 31 and Oct. 31.

In addition to the extended deadlines, the IRS is abating penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits that were due on or after July 28 and before Aug. 14 as long as the deposits were made by the August deadline.

Estimated tax payment penalties also will be waived if the installment tax payments are made on or before Nov. 30.

If you are eligible for the tax relief but get 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, 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. However, if you live or have a business located outside the disaster area and believe you, too, should receive special tax consideration due to the July 28-29 storms, call the IRS disaster hotline at 1-(866)-562-5227 to request this tax relief.

Disaster claims now or later: In addition to the immediate tax deadline deferments, taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area can choose to claim disaster-related casualty losses on their federal income tax return for either the year in which the event occurred or the prior year.

Depending on your tax situation, this tax claim time shifting by filing an amended return could get you federal refund money quicker, money that you could use to make repairs as soon as possible.

West Virginia taxpayers who decided to refile their 2016 Form 1040 (or do so by Nov. 30 if they got an extension to file), should put the disaster designation "West Virginia Severe Storms, Flooding, Landslides, and Mudslides" at the top of the form so that the IRS can expedite the processing of your refund.

If, however, you get a better refund result by waiting to claim the July storm losses on your 2017 return you file next year, do that.

You can learn more about your disaster claim options in this tax tip, as well as in IRS Publication 547 and tails, see Form 4684 and its instructions.

And there's more natural disaster tax help for recovery efforts, along with details on tax deductions for donations to those who are hit by natural disasters and more at the ol' blog's Storm Warnings page. 

Wherever you are and regardless of what natural catastrophe you may confront, the key thing to remember is to stay safe!

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