Disaster Feed

Nov. 18 is the last day this year that the Internal Revenue Service will accept electronically filed tax returns. Wait, you say. Didn't the final deadline for sending in 2016 returns come and go on Oct. 16? You are correct, tax savvy calendar watchers. But folks who were granted an extension to file until Jan. 31, 2018, might be able to take advantage of the extended e-file option. Disaster-related added time: The Jan. 31 deadline applies to millions of taxpayers who live in what this year was declared a federal disaster area and who got a six-month extension to file... Read more →


Hurricane Irma recovery work continues in Marathon Key, Florida, on Oct. 30 where storm debris is burned. Louisiana and South Carolina also were hit hard by this season's deadly hurricanes and some residents in those states are now getting tax relief, too. (Photo by Bill Koplitz/FEMA) The worst of the 2017 hurricane system began its assault on the United States on Aug. 25 when Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast as a category 4 storm. In rapid succession, the United States and it Caribbean territories also were pummeled in September by category 4 Hurricanes Irma and Maria.... Read more →


Where the heck has 2017 gone? The countdown clock over in the ol' blog's right column is steadily ticking away the time left until Dec. 31, the deadline for most moves that could affect this year's taxes. The Internal Revenue Service, however, has its eyes on November, which is just little more than a week away. The start of that 11th month effectively is the cutoff date for the federal tax agency to get ready for the next year's filing season. If the IRS can't get some certainty as to how to update forms, instructions and operational processes, the start... Read more →


Aerial view on Oct. 9 of a damaged home in the mountainous area of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria, many homes, businesses, roads and bridges suffered major damages due to strong winds and heavy rain. (Photo by Andrea Booher, FEMA) To borrow from James Taylor's plaintive classic, the Internal Revenue Service has seen fire and rain and is making tax accommodations for Americans having to deal with those disastrous aftermaths. Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, pummeling the U.S. territory with category 5 force. Three weeks later, many of the island's 3.4 million residents are... Read more →


If compassion fatigue hadn't set in after the back-to-back-to-back hurricanes that roared across the Atlantic, laying waste to much of Texas, Florida, Georgia and many Caribbean islands, it probably did when Mexico got rocked within two weeks by two massive and deadly earthquakes. A group of American tourists were literally rocked when their Sept. 19 Mexico boat ride was interrupted by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Click image to watch full YouTube video. Many of the small tropical islands were particularly hard hit by Hurricanes Irma and then Maria. Both were major hurricanes. Both covered wide areas. The mass of the... Read more →


Hurricane Irma got most attention when she threatened and eventually made landfall in Florida. Her destructive effects, however, were felt beyond the Sunshine State. History of Hurricane #Irma: 1 September 2017 - 10 September 2017 #GOES16 pic.twitter.com/Z53paEmpIY — NASA SPoRT (@NASA_SPoRT) September 11, 2017 That's why today the Internal Revenue Service announced that all of Georgia, which took its own hard hits as Irma moved across the Georgia-Florida border, is now eligible for disaster tax relief. This latest hurricane related tax relief parallels that previously granted to Irma victims throughout Florida and in parts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin... Read more →


UPDATE, Sep. 19: Hurricane Maria is heading for Puerto Rico today as, says the island's governor, the "potentially most catastrophic hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in a century." UPDATE, Sept. 18: The National Hurricane Center has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the MidAtlantic and New England Coasts. Specifically, effects of Hurricane Jose are expected to be felt in Fenwick Island to Sandy Hook, Delaware Bay South, East Rockaway Inlet to Plymouth, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Weather officials also warn that rip currents are a danger along the entire U.S. east coast. Meanwhile, Hurricane Maria is following Irma's... Read more →


Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, left, accepts a truckload of help from his New York colleague Rep. Tom Suozzi to help Hurricane Harvey victims. Now Brady wants to offer more help via special tax relief for retirement account withdrawals. (Photo from Rep. Brady via Facebook) Here's a clear indication that tax reform isn't going to be as easy as many hope. Talk of tax reform has focused variously on tax rate cuts, deduction reductions and overall simplification of the Internal Revenue Code. Rep. Kevin Brady, the Texas Republican in charge of the House tax-writing committee, is himself considering adding a new... Read more →


Aside from the damage that hurricanes cause, one of the biggest problems is that they often, especially in September, effectively come back to back. Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose (left to right) lined up earlier in September. (National Hurricane Center radar image) That's what happened with Hurricane Irma. The angry sister of Hurricane Harvey walloped all of Florida three weeks after coastal Texas was gut-punched by Harvey's historic flooding. The back-to-back U.S. landfalls was a first for Category 4 storms. The only good news here, at least tax-wise, is that the Internal Revenue Service has a Harvey template for Irma... Read more →


Photo by The Explorographer via Flickr CC Sixteen years ago, the unthinkable happened. Terrorists struck on U.S. soil, leaving 2,977 dead in New York City, Washington, D.C. and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. This Sept. 11, residents of Florida, Texas, U.S. territories in the Caribbean and neighboring island nations are struggling to recover from Harvey and Irma, two deadly hurricanes that are among the strongest ever to make landfall. There is no comparing these tragedies. Each is heart-wrenching and horrific in its own way. But they share one important attribute. Today, as on Sept. 11, 2001, people are reaching out to... Read more →


Records, tax and financial, are often among the property damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster. If you're lucky, you might be able, like this woman, to salvage some of the documents. If not, you'll need to recreate them to take advantage of tax-related storm relief. (Image courtesy Louisiana Law Blog) Maybe you didn't think the hurricane's flood waters would reach your neighborhood. Or maybe you just never kept copies, either paper or digital, of your financial and tax records. Now, however, you find you're among the millions dealing with Hurricane Harvey aftermath that destroyed much of the Texas Gulf... Read more →


Remember my post back in June noting that the Atlantic hurricane season was heating up? That's one of the few times I hated being right. Parts of Texas are still flooded by Hurricane Harvey's deluge, but Mother Nature doesn't care. She's cooked up Harvey's angrier sister, Hurricane Irma, now a dangerous — potentially catastrophic, according to the National Hurricane Center's latest alert — Category 5 storm. Even worse than Irma's strength — her maximum sustained winds were at 180 miles per hour in the NHC's 11 a.m. ET report today — is her last forecast path that has her moving... Read more →


Residents of Houston and much of southeast Texas are still dealing with Hurricane Harvey's floods. Texas National Guard members are helping. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tim Pruitt via Flickr) If you're looking for financial help to help you recover from Hurricane Harvey damages, the Internal Revenue Service says you can use your workplace retirement plan money. The IRS announced that 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans can make expedited loans and hardship distributions to hurricane victims and members of their families in Texas. Since Harvey made initial landfall the night of Aug. 25 near Rockport, Texas, the federally-declared disaster area... Read more →


Some folks have been asking for clarification on disaster loss claims, specifically with regard to the value of a damaged or destroyed home. A Rockport, Texas, home severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey, which made its first landfall on Aug. 25 at the Gulf Coast town. (Photo courtesy National Weather Service, Corpus Christi, via Twitter) At issue is how a home's fair market value factors into a disaster tax claim. I'm sorry to report that a property's high value — I'm talking for sale purposes, not just your personal appreciation and assessment of the house — won't help you get more... Read more →


People are still being rescued in flooded Houston, so very few — even those who made it through Hurricane Harvey relatively unscathed — are thinking about taxes right now. But when they do begin to face rebuilding their post-storm lives, one of the things they'll have to deal with is taxes. A Texas National Guard soldier rescues a woman from her Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston neighborhood. (Photo by 1Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD, via Flickr Creative Commons) The Internal Revenue Service has some good news for folks in Houston and its flooded surroundings, as well as those in other areas... Read more →


Oh, Photoshop. What would the internet be without you? Sometimes, doctored images are welcome innocent examples of good humor. Other times they are cruel and divisive. And the astounding photos tend to skyrocket during times of tragedy and disaster. Take, for example, the photo below of what @Jeggit's Tweet says is a shark swimming in a Houston street flooded by Hurricane Harvey. Jeggit gives us the option to believe it or not. Go with not. It's fake. Mashable has the details on the original shark photo, which over the years has been seen in edited online images swimming through flooded... Read more →


Hurricane Harvey has inundated Houston. And it's still raining there. And in other parts of the Lone Star State. Thanks to The Weather Channel's Matt Sitkowski for posting this image on Twitter, along with one showing these Houston roads pre-Hurricane Harvey so we can get some perspective on the extent of H-Town's hurricane-related flooding. That means lots of folks are going to need help recovering from the strongest tropical system to hit Texas since Hurricane Carla in 1961. From Corpus Christi to Port Arthur along the Gulf Coast and, thanks to Harvey's size and slow movement, well inland, my native... Read more →


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. 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.... Read more →


Tropical Storm Harvey is bringing the 2017 hurricane season to my home state. And while it's the Texas Gulf Coast that will take the first hit late Friday, Aug. 25/early Saturday, Aug. 26, the storm will be felt well inland. Including here in Austin. Meteorologists are forecasting that Harvey could be a Category 3 hurricane by the time it makes landfall. If so, it would be the first major hurricane to make U.S. landfall since Wilma in 2005. UPDATE Aug. 24, 2017, 5:30 p.m.: The dire predictions are looking like they are on the mark. This afternoon, Harvey was strong... Read more →


It's officially summer. Time for fun at the beach. And fun making mid-year tax moves. Happy July 5th, the start of midyear tax planning. With six months left in the tax year, it's the perfect time to make some tax moves that could reduce your 2017 tax bill. Here are six easy ones to take care of in July. 1. Adjust your payroll withholding. Did you get a big tax refund this year? Or did you owe Uncle Sam more than you expected? Either situation means that you need to reassess your payroll withholding. It's easy to do. Just give... Read more →