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Louisiana flood victims get special tax consideration

Torrential rains have produced deadly flooding across central Louisiana.

In response to the historic downpours, the Internal Revenue Service today announced that storm victims will have until Jan. 17, 2017, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments.

Folks who are affiliated with recognized government or philanthropic organizations and helping in the Louisiana relief effort also qualify for the special IRS tax treatment.

Official disaster areas: The IRS move comes after President Barack Obama declared rain-soaked parts of the Pelican State major disaster areas. These include East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes.

Louisiana historic August 2016 rains_The Weather ChannelHistoric rainfall levels have devastated several Louisiana parishes.

Other locations in Louisiana and other states also may get special tax attention as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers federal government disaster assistance programs, continues to assess the damages.

If you're a Louisiana resident in a flooded region, check FEMA's website for any additions to the original disaster declaration.

More tax filing time: Affected Louisianans, both individual taxpayers and business owners, should mark Jan. 17, 2017, on their calendars. This, says the IRS, is the new deadline for various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred since the storms started on Aug. 11.

The new mid-January deadline applies to the filing of tax  and payment of any taxes that were originally due during this extension period. This includes:

  • the Sept. 15 deadline for making quarterly estimated tax payments,
  • the Sept. 15 deadline for corporation and partnership returns on extension,
  • the Oct. 17 deadline for completion of 2015 individual come tax returns on extension, and
  • the Oct. 31 deadline for businesses' quarterly payroll and excise tax returns.

Some, but not all, payments covered: In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after Aug. 11 and before Aug. 26 if the deposits are made by Aug. 26.

Tax payments related to 2015 individual returns, however, do not get any special flood consideration.

Taxpayers who filed for the extension should have paid any due tax when they requested their extensions by the original April 18 tax deadline. Since that payment deadline was well before the major disaster area declaration, any still due 2015 tax payments are not affected by today's IRS relief actions.

No special action needed: The IRS says affected taxpayers don't need to contact any of its office to get the relief announced today.

The IRS says it will automatically provide filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area.

However, if you are in one of the tax-relief areas and get a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS in connection with any of the tax responsibilities covered by today's announcement, you should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

If you live outside the disaster area, but the records you need to meet a deadline are located in the affected area, let the IRS know. The agency says it will work with you in these cases.

Finally, if you don't live in one of the disaster area parishes but believe you should receive special tax consideration because of the storms and flooding, call the IRS toll-free at 866-562-5227 to discuss your situation.

Other tax options: Remember, too, that you might be able to get a special tax break that allows disaster area taxpayers to claim losses on their prior year taxes.

You can take that tax-time-shift option by filing an amended 2015 tax return or, if you haven't filed your 2015 taxes yet, on that return when you do file, now by the new Jan. 17, 2017, due date.

Details on this special disaster loss tax claim, as well as other catastrophe tax filing, preparation and storm related matters, can be found on the ol' blog's special Natural Disasters Resources page.


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