Disaster Feed

Winter can be gorgeous. It also can be disastrous, as all us Texans more accustomed to heat waves than winter storms found out last week. (Photo by Kay Bell) It's been near 80 degrees for the last two days in my part of Texas. This time last week, we were in the teens during the day, after single-digit overnight low — and record-breaking — cold temperatures. This surprisingly strong cold snap left a lot of damage. People lost power and water. Freezing pipes in freezing houses burst. Food was spoiled. Many are looking at weeks to even get repairs underway... Read more →


IRS Washington, D.C., headquarters (Photo by Davide Boeke via Flickr CC) Taxpayers are not the only ones ticked off because they got failure to file notices from the Internal Revenue Service. "Enough is enough," two leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee has told IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in a recent letter. W&M Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-New Jersey), chair of the tax-writing panel's Subcommittee on Oversight, took the agency to task not only for the 260,000 incorrect non-filing notices it recently sent, but also for a series of other missteps. "[W]e are... Read more →


Tax Season 2021 is finally here! The Internal Revenue Service has started accepting tax returns and, more importantly, is now processing the filings as of today, Friday, Feb. 12. Millions have already filed. Most of them used tax software, either on their own or through the Free File program, which the IRS and its tax prep partners opened up a month ago. Those 1040 forms have been on hold. Now they've been transmitted to the IRS. Others, however, still have some work to do. We're waiting for some tax statements to straggle in, either to our snail mail or email... Read more →


I'm feeling a bit like the Internal Revenue Service's appointments secretary, but this Friday, Jan. 15, is a date when many taxpayers need to take action. Yes, I'm talking about the fourth estimated tax payment due at the end of this week, but also about some final tax year 2019 housekeeping. Specifically, individuals and businesses who were in the paths of some major disasters last year. The timing of those catastrophes prompted the IRS to give taxpayers who had already filed for an extension to finish their 2019 tax returns until Jan. 15, 2021, to complete them. These folks now... Read more →


Photo by Olya Kobruseva via Pexels Happy New Year! Oh, sorry. Was I typing too loud? I'm glad you were able to festively, and I hope safely, ring in 2021. Now that it's here, it also brings a new tax filing season. The Internal Revenue Service's delivery of the second round of COVID-19 relief money shouldn't hamper its handling of 2020 returns, which should officially start later this month. So if the IRS can be ready, so can we. So here are a few tax things to think about and take care of, after, of course, you're fully recovered from... Read more →


We need to follow Santa Claus' example this month. Just as he checks his naughty or nice list, we need to check on tax moves to make by Dec. 31. It's December. 2020 and its craziness is almost over! Are you ready? Specifically, are you ready for the holidays? For those of us still committed to pandemic precautions, it's going to be a different, and yes, a bit less jolly, season. But one thing is the same as in previous Decembers. We still need to make some tax moves before Jan. 1. Some December tax moves will demand a little... Read more →


Soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard responding after Hurricane Laura destroyed much of Lake Charles. The Capital One Tower was among the properties severely damaged by the category 4 storm. (Photo by Josiah Pugh via Flickr/Wikipedia Commons) Hurricane season 2020 is almost over and Nov. 30 cannot get here soon enough for Louisiana residents. The Pelican State was pummeled by five storms this record-breaking year, including a category 4 which produced the strongest cyclonic wind speeds ever recorded in the state. So state officials are giving folks who are still trying to rebuild in the storms' wakes a chance to... Read more →


The continuing COVID-19 chaos, plus an extended 2020 filing season for those coping with this year's natural disaster onslaught, could create more challenges in 2021 for taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service. Are we — and the agency — ready for it? 2020, a year that many of us would just as soon forget, will end in just more than two months. This federal tax filing season, however, will continue for folks who've endured some of the notable natural disasters that have helped make 2020 so terrible. Last week, the Internal Revenue Service issued more disaster-related tax relief in connection... Read more →


Wildfire at night by Chenjack via Flickr While millions of taxpayers rushed to finish their 2109 tax filing last week in order to meet the Oct. 15 extended deadline, others weren't concerned about that deadline. They are the individual and business taxpayers who are dealing with something more pressing than taxes. They are trying to pick up the pieces from a major natural disaster. In these catastrophic cases, the Internal Revenue Service usually gives affected taxpayers more time to take care of their tax filing tasks. Some additional West Coast taxpayers have been added to this year's adjusted tax deadline... Read more →


Hello, October! You're always welcome at my house. I love your cooler temperatures that let me open windows and doors and put an end to exorbitant air conditioning costs. I love the color changes of trees and shrubs. And I love the candy that I accidentally (really!) over-buy in preparation for the young ghouls and goblins that knock on our front door each Oct. 31. I suspect I'm not alone in appreciating the arrival of autumn. But amid all these annual fall festivities, we need to make at least a few tax moves that could help out our upcoming tax... Read more →


Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine agents survey Alabama Gulf Coast damage caused by Hurricane Sally on Sept. 16. (CBP photo by Jerry Glaser via Wikipedia Commons) Tax changes connected to the historic number of storms this 2020 Atlantic hurricane season keep on coming. This week the Internal Revenue Service announced that some Alabama individuals impacted by Hurricane Sally, which made official landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama, on Sept. 16, now have until mid-January to deal with impending tax tasks. Sally actually began affecting Gulf Coast states on Sept. 14. That's the day cited by the IRS in... Read more →


These West Texas cattle don't appear worried about much. Their owners, however, have a lot of concerns, including severe weather that could hurt their ranches' profitability. If drought has caused problems, the IRS is offering them some tax relief. (Photo by Kay Bell) When we city folks think of disaster preparation and animals, we're worrying about how to keep our pets safe during and after a major Mother Nature event. It's a bit more complicated when the animals are part of your livelihood. That's why farmers and ranchers in the path of potential disasters, like the flooding that now's across... Read more →


Here are 12 scam avoidance tips, six for catastrophe victims and six for those who want to help. Tropical Storm Beta hanging off the Texas Gulf Coast Monday, Sept. 21, afternoon. Image courtesy the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC). The Atlantic hurricane season has already made the record books. Fires are devastating vast areas of the Western United States. Unusual weather events like the Midwestern derecho have wrecked homes and businesses. That means millions of folks are looking for help. There are many sources of assistance, from charitable organizations to help people deal with a... Read more →


The Brattain Fire near Paisley, Oregon, on Sept. 15, more than a week after it ignited. (Photo by Maj. Leslie Reed, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs, courtesy Oregon National Guard via Flickr) Tax season 2020 has been extended for some taxpayers. Unfortunately, the extra time to take care of tax tasks is because these individuals and businesses were threatened are dealing with the outbreak of wildfires in Oregon. The Internal Revenue Service announced that victims of the Oregon wildfires and straight-line winds that began on Sept. 7 now have until Jan. 15, 2021 to file various individual and business tax... Read more →


Taxpayers and their tax pros have faced many and new hassles this filing season, primarily because of COVID-19 challenges. Do any of these 2020 tax season situations qualify as an acceptable reason to waive associated filing penalties? Maybe. Technology, and especially tax tech, is great. Until it isn't. That was my reaction when I learned that a lot of tax professionals were left in the lurch yesterday when their tax software provider's e-file system crashed just as they were submitting — or trying to — businesses clients' tax returns that were due Sept. 15. The issue, as you can imagine,... Read more →


No gasoline necessary for electric vehicles like this Chevrolet Bolt, which instead is plugged in to recharge for the road. If you opt for an IRS-certified electric auto or light truck, you might get some tax break help on your purchase. Climate change is getting more coverage lately. People are paying attention to what's happening with Mother Nature here in the United States thanks to the opposing environmental takes by the two presidential contenders. On a more personal level for many Americans is that we're in the midst of one of the most active hurricane seasons ever — we're already... Read more →


Nearly 3,000 people in three states died on Sept. 11, 2001, in a coordinated foreign terrorist attack. On this 19th anniversary (or any day), you can honor their memories by helping those in need today. (Photo courtesy Corporation for National and Community Service) Today, Sept. 11, is Patriot Day. It's not a federal holiday. Federal and state offices are open. So are businesses and schools, where allowed by COVID-19 precautions. It is, however, a solemn day in the United States. On Sept. 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger airplanes. Two flew into the Twin Towers in Manhattan, causing... Read more →


Louisiana National Guard members help clear roadways and assess damages on Aug. 27, 2020, in Lake Charles, Louisiana after Hurricane Laura made landfall the night before. (Courtesy of the Louisiana National Guard via Wikipedia Commons) Louisiana residents hard hit by major Hurricane Laura's landfall in that state last month now are getting some tax relief. The Internal Revenue Service has announced updated on Sept. 10 its list providing residents in 16 18 parishes until Dec. 31, 2020, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. The eligible parishes are Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson,... Read more →


Pixabay Ah, fall. Summer's scorching temperatures start to moderate. School's back in session. College and football players are back on the fields. Sorry. I seem to have drifted off into memories of autumn 2019. This is 2020. Scientists say worldwide, this year could rank near the top in torrid temps. Schools across the United States are struggling with how to keep students and staff safe during the coronavirus pandemic. And as for sports, the National Football League is going to give it a try, but some major college conferences have already called off theirs seasons. One thing, though, hasn't changed.... Read more →


Hurricane Laura made landfall at Cameron, Louisiana, at 1 a.m. today, Aug. 27, as a Category 4 storm, with winds of 150 mph. Three Sixteen persons lost their lives. Property damage is still being assessed. Now Louisiana residents, who were the hardest hit by the area's strongest storm in more than a century and which at mid-morning, more than 100 miles inland, was still a Category 1, must deal with the aftermath. We're still getting reports on the damage. The one bit of good news is that the expected storm surge, if it materialized, looks to have been in a... Read more →


UPDATED Oct. 6, 2020: More Iowa counties now eligible for relief. Details below. Photo courtesy Cal Fire Mother Nature is in one foul, destructive mood. California wildfires have killed seven people, destroyed more than 1,400 buildings destroyed and ravaged 1.25 million acres in the Golden State. Blazes also have burned more than 1.8 million acres in 14 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Hurricane Laura, which is shown in a National Hurricane Center satellite image below (updated 10 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020) gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to swamp East Texas and... Read more →