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IRS offers tax relief for Hurricane Florence victims

The Internal Revenue Service acted quickly in announcing tax relief for Hurricane Florence victims. As the flood waters continued to build, it expanded its relief beyond its initial disaster coverage area. Read on for more on IRS actions and how you can follow Uncle Sam's example and lend assistance to those dealing with the deadly storm.

Deer cross Hurricane Florence flooded road in Jacksonville NC_NBC News via Twitter
Deer brave a Hurricane Florence flooded road in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in search of higher, drier ground. (Screen shot of NBC News Twitter video)

As expected, the Internal Revenue Service has announced that some folks in Hurricane Florence's path will received special consideration when it comes to their tax tasks.

Residents and businesses in areas that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has determined qualifying for assistance now have more time to meet various tax filing and payment deadlines.

Specifically, according to the IRS announcement, affected taxpayers now have until Jan. 31, 2019, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due beginning Sept. 7.

Added filing, payment time: This added time frame covers the third estimated tax payments due Monday, Sept. 17, as well as quarterly payroll and excise tax returns that normally would be due on Sept. 30.

Businesses with extensions also have the additional time including, among others, calendar-year partnerships whose 2017 extensions run out on Sept. 17, 2018.

Taxpayers who had a valid extension to file their 2017 return due by Oct. 15, 2018 now also have until the end of next January to get those forms to the IRS.

In addition, the IRS says that penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Sept. 7 and before Sept. 24 will be abated as long as the deposits are made by Sept. 24.

The IRS disaster relief page has details on other returns, payments and tax-related actions qualifying for the additional time.x

Eligible taxpayers: So just who is eligible for this tax relief?

It covers, as of now (Saturday, Sept. 15) individuals who reside or have a business in Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender counties in North Carolina may qualify for this relief.

But since Hurricane Florence is a slow-moving storm dumping extraordinary rain amounts across the Carolinas, more areas could be affected. If or when additional counties are added to the FEMA designated areas, they will be included in this relief.

UPDATE, Oct. 3: As the breadth of Florence's damage is revealed, the presidential major disaster area has expanded. So has available IRS tax relief. It now is available to affected residents and businesses in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

Covered North Carolina counties now include Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnson, Lee, Lenoir, Jones, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Wayne and Wilson.

South Carolina counties covered under the declaration are Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion and Marlboro.

You can check for any additions to the list of eligible localities on the IRS' online disaster relief page for Florence, as well as FEMA's Florence site.

Claiming Florence tax relief: If you're in the Florence-eligible area, don't worry about contacting the IRS to get this relief.

The tax agency automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area.

If, however, you happen to get a late-filing or late-payment penalty notice from the IRS for a tax matter covered by the postponement period, do call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

Also, if you're not in the official Florence disaster area but you have tax or other records necessary to meet any of the delayed deadlines occurring within the affected area, call the IRS toll-free at (866) 562-5227. The agency will work with you for possible relief.

Finally, if you are not a resident but a relief worker with a recognized government or philanthropic organization in the area helping with recovery efforts, you also are eligible for this Hurricane Florence relief.

Helping hurricane victims: Speaking of relief, if you want to do something to lend a hand, this weekend's Saturday Shout Out goes to several websites with specifics on how to help.

You can find a variety of hurricane victim assistance options, whether you're near the storm or want to give long-distance, at:

Other storm-related tax tips: Remember, if you itemize and donate to an IRS-qualified charity, your hurricane relief gift might be tax deductible.

Folks who sustained damage from Hurricane Florence also are eligible for possible tax relief.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act limited claims for casualty losses only to those instances where the damages are from a federally-declared major disaster area. That's the case for Florence.

So if you sustained uninsured or unreimbursed property losses due to Florence, look into make a tax claim. You can choose to file for the relief on your 2018 tax return next year or you can claim the losses for the prior 2017 tax year.

You can find out more about making a major disaster loss tax relief claim in this story, as well as in IRS Publication 547.

You also might find these items of interest:

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