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Tax help for fire's aftermath

It seems like the whole world is burning. I typed "wildfire" into Google and was stunned.

Fire_2 I fully expected to see something about the tragedy in Greece and the Idaho situation here in the U.S.

But I had no idea that a stubborn blaze in Southern California has burned more than 375 square miles since July 4. Or that forests in Michigan's Upper Peninsula are ablaze. And a portion of Crimea might be evacuated because of wildfires.

In Montana, the governor has called a special legislative session for next week so that lawmakers can come up with more firefighting money. Right now, there are 20 wildfires burning in Montana; more than 500,000 acres (781+ square miles) in the state have burned so far.

I did have an inkling that Montana had fire issues because a newsletter I get mentioned that any property owner whose home or outbuildings were partially or totally destroyed by wildfire may be eligible for property tax relief.

In addition, some forest land owners whose standing timber is destroyed by wildfire during 2007 will receive a 50 percent reduction in the assessed value for 20 years, beginning with the 2008 tax year.

Montana residential property and forest land owners can get further information at this special Department of Revenue Web site.

Casualty losses count, too: Montana property owners who suffered fire-related property losses also may be eligible for state income tax deductions for casualty losses. The loss can be claimed by filing Form 4684, Casualties and Thefts, along with the 2007 Montana individual income tax return.

And all U.S. taxpayers who suffer a casualty loss -- defined as damage to or destruction of property from any sudden, unexpected and unusual event -- also might be able to claim a federal tax deduction.

You can get details on casualty losses in this story, as well as in this IRS Tax Topic.


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