Disaster Feed

Hello, July! The heat is definitely on, but there are plenty of ways to chill out, both personally and to put your 2019 tax bill on ice. Yes, I know you want to head to the pool or beach or catch up on neglected novels or just be generally lazy. I'm right there with you. But you'll enjoy those recreational pursuits a lot more once you've taken some steps, like the seven listed below, to lower your 2019 tax bill. Let's get to 'em! 1. Get weather ready. A low pressure trough moved overnight from Georgia to the Florida panhandle... Read more →


A U.S. Geological Survey map displays the magnitude-7.1 earthquake that rattled Ridgecrest, California, Friday July 5, 2019. When the Northridge earthquake devastated that part of Southern California 25 years ago, I worked for a company headquartered in the area. Lucky for me, I was in the firm's government relations office in Washington, D.C., when the deadly 6.7 magnitude quake hit the early morning of Jan 17, 1994. Many of my California-based coworkers, however, sustained property damages. Some of those folks still live in Southern California. So do some of my relatives. Dangerous quake duo: This week, they felt the long-distance... Read more →


House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) opens today's (June 20, 2019) hearing on tax extenders and disaster tax relief. (Screen shot of official W&M YouTube hearing). UPDATE, June 21, 2019: After almost more than 11 hours of discussion, the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, June 20, passed along a 25-to-17 party-line vote a measure to extend through 2020 a variety of tax breaks that expired in 2017 and 2018 or will expire at the end of this year. The bill also provides tax relief for those who affected by certain major natural disasters. The House... Read more →


April 15 came and went without you. You didn't file your annual Form 1040. You didn't send in an extension request to get six more months to file your return either. And you definitely didn't get around to sending the Internal Revenue Service the balance of the tax you owed on last year's income. Hey, I'm not judging. Things happen. But if you don't want to have to fork over even more cash to Uncle Sam, then you better get to work on your 2018 tax return and get it to the IRS soon. June 14 soon. After that date... Read more →


Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast on Aug. 25, 2017. (National Hurricane Center satellite radar image) After a record-setting run of tornadoes over the last two weeks across not just Tornado Alley and the Midwest, but also into the MidAtlantic, the Big Apple even the nation's capital city, it's time for a weather break. Or not. The 2019 hurricane season officially starts June 1. Yes, I'm starting to look at the tropics a bit early, especially since we got a bit of a preview on May 20 when this year's first name storm popped up near Bermuda.... Read more →


It's that terrible time of year when Mother Nature is on the rampage. In the last few days, at least 19 twisters have touched down in Tornado Alley. That dangerous weather pattern is expected to repeat and expand over the coming days. 3:57 PM - We know have TWIN tornadoes northwest of Crescent in far western Logan county, north of OKC. Both of these are currently on the ground. Storm is moving northeast at 35 mph toward Mulhall. #okwx @NEWS9 pic.twitter.com/fAkqaGemmZ — Matt Mahler (@themahler) May 20, 2019 In addition to spawning twisters that destroyed stretches of property, but luckily... Read more →


Children celebrate May Day by dancing around a maypole on the Village Green in Tewin, near Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England. (Photo by Paul Barnett via Wikimedia Commons) Happy May Day! It's the annual May 1 global holiday celebrating the contributions of workers. But the other mayday often comes to mind when taxes are involved. If it's a tax distress signal you're sending out as the merry month of May begins, here are some moves that could help ease your tax trepidations. 1. File your 2018 return. If last month you didn't file your 2018 tax return, either because you... Read more →


Two tornadoes struck the small East Texas town of Alto on Saturday, April 13. The National Weather Service confirmed on Sunday that the first was an EF-2 tornado and the second was an EF-3. Click image to see video from Disaster Compilations on YouTube. There are some things more important than taxes on April 15, 2019. Too many folks in the southern half of the United States are dealing with the loss of family and friends after a deadly weather system moved across that region over the weekend. At least eight people were killed by the storms, which in addition... Read more →


Lee County, Alabama, March 3 tornado damage. (Photo: Nicholas Baretto via Twitter) As expected, once the White House declared parts of Alabama a major disaster area, the Internal Revenue Service followed up by offering affected residents a variety of tax relief. Victims of the deadly tornadoes and severe storms that raked areas of the Yellowhammer State now have until July 31 to file some individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments. "With the regular deadline just a few weeks away, we want storm victims to focus on their families and recovering, rather than worrying about the tax... Read more →


Some of the destruction from a tornado, preliminary estimated to be an EF-4 with winds reaching 170 mph, that touched down on March 3, 2019, in Lee County, Alabama. (Photo courtesy National Weather Service, Birmingham via Twitter) Mother Nature showed her extremely mean side this weekend, with tornadoes in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and the Florida panhandle leaving a path of death and destruction. I know that folks just now getting a good look at the havoc are not in a mood to think about taxes. That's especially true of those in who lost loved ones when a twister roared... Read more →


The King by Kevin Pluck via Flickr We thought we wanted you March, but your "in like lion" approach this year is way too fierce. Severe weather roared through the south today, with a rash of tornadoes claiming lives and destroying property. Meanwhile, a serious winter storm is heading to the northeast, making March's appearance more like a snow leopard than a lion. The only good thing about this early spate of destructive weather is that it reminds us all to be ready for natural disasters. They happen year-round. And under the new tax law, you can claim any damages... Read more →


It's Dec. 1. That means we have to wait just 24 days until we can unwrap our presents, or 23 if you rip 'em open on Christmas Eve. It's also the first day in six months that we haven't been counting down the annual Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) compiled the above video that compresses Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) East satellite imagery of the entire six-plus-month season (yes, it started early again this year) into one minute. NOAA's YouTube presentation also gets this week's special video Saturday Shout Out. A secondary shout... Read more →


North Carolina flooding in the wake of extensive hurricane rains. Photo courtesy Federal Emergency Management Agency A bill that would extend some expired tax laws, enact a handful of new ones and correct some errors in last year's tax reform bill is now before the House of Representatives. The extensive and expensive — the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will add another $55 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years — measure has a decent chance of clearing the House, where all it needs is the votes of the Republicans who control that chamber. Its chances in... Read more →


Computer hacking ID theft image by Don Hankins via Flickr The billions of holiday shoppers who head for their electronic devices instead of malls are well aware of the precautions they need to take as they pick perfect gifts from websites. This year, everyone also needs to be on alert for tax crooks who've joined this annual online crime wave. Specifically, the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners warn that they've recently seen a surge of fraudulent emails where the sender impersonates the IRS and uses tax transcripts as bait to entice users to open documents containing malware.... Read more →


Image courtesy Natural Disasters by Nina Bort via SlideShare Thanksgiving week 2019 is a difficult time for many on both sides of the United States. Hurricanes this summer devastated lives and property in parts of the South and Eastern Seaboard. This fall Californians are dealing with deadly wildfires. Those of us who can help our less fortunate neighbors have many options, from the usual national charities that hit the ground in disaster areas to regionally specific nonprofits. The Internal Revenue Service is helping in its way, too. Hurricane Florence help in more of Virginia: This month, the IRS extended its... Read more →


Updated Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 Smoke from the Camp, Hill and Woolsey fires now burning in California as seen via NASA satellite images. Earthquakes have been displaced as the most feared nature disaster in California. Wildfires, which once again are ravaging the Golden State, now are the biggest perennial natural threat, as evidenced by the latest rash of devastating and deadly flame outbreaks. Firefighters are battling three wildfires across the state. The Camp Fire, named after Camp Creek Road, is now the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. As of Monday, Nov. 12, morning, the fire was responsible... Read more →


The 2018 tax season is not quite over for some folks. But if you're an extra-late filer and want to submit your 1040 electronically, you must do so by Nov. 17. After that date, you'll have to complete your 2017 tax year filing on paper returns. Must-do maintenance: The Internal Revenue Service didn't select the Nov. 17 e-file drop-dead due date randomly. The agency says it needs to shut down its IRS Modernized e-file system that processes electronically-filed individual returns after next weekend so that it has enough time to perform annual maintenance. The IRS also has to reprogram the... Read more →


Homes along Lake LBJ sustained flood damage after recent torrential rains sent Central Texas waterways over their banks. The effect of too many days of too much rain is indicated by the debris and dumpsters outside the homes, as well as the lake's water up to the tree canopy and the usually blue water turned muddy by the waters that rushed into it from upstream. (Photo taken Oct. 18, 2018, by Kay Bell) We had a magnificent weather weekend, with two gorgeous days in the Austin area and we get to start this new week with more sunshine and full... Read more →


On top of everything else, the Texas floods have produced rafts of floating fire ants. Click image to see KVUE News Twitter video of this monstrosity! There are new stories every day about folks working to reclaim a semblance of normal after the massive destruction of Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Here in Central Texas, hundreds of homes and businesses were (and some still are) under water. Our governor is considering whether to ask Uncle Sam for federal disaster relief to help affected folks get back on their feet. If the Lone Star State does ask and get federal disaster relief,... Read more →


Texas, according to veteran Lone Star State meteorologists, is the land of perennial drought, broken by the occasional devastating flood. Such flooding occurred today, opening up the possibility that parts of the Texas Hill Country could be deemed major disaster areas. If that happens, affected property owners can claim their losses on their tax returns. Mansfield dam image Excessive rainfall has produced devastating flooding in Central Texas, forcing area officials to open floodgates at local dams. The amount of water flowing into area rivers and lakes is so heavy that even Mansfield Dam in Austin, the structure that holds back... Read more →