No place in the world is disaster proof. Mother Nature unleashes her horrors globally and year round via hurricanes, tornadoes, wild fires, floods, blizzards and more.
This special Natural Disasters Resource Page, part of the overall Storm Warnings collection of Don't Mess With Taxes blog posts about disasters and the associated tax implications, offers suggestions and tax guidance on how you can help folks whose lives were been upended (or worse) when Mother Nature turned into Mommy Dearest.
So, since time is of the essence when people are trying to put their lives back together after a natural disaster, here goes with ways you can help others cope with the various catastrophes that many of us will face at some point in our lives.
Those of us spared the wrath of Mother Nature often help disaster victims via donations to relief efforts.
Not only is our generosity appreciated by those struggling to recover from what is likely the worst thing that's ever happened to them, it could provide donors with a tax deduction.
Major relief organizations typically start accepting donations for disaster victims immediately after the catastrophe occurs.
You can check out their websites for ways to donate. They generally include mailed donation checks, or credit card gifts made online. Most also offer the option to text your disaster relief gift.
When you give to a qualified charity, which basically is a nonprofit that is approved by the Internal Revenue Service, you can deduct your gift. The IRS keeps an online registry of groups that meet its criteria. So do as GuideStar and Charity Navigator.
The other rules for charitable gift deductions also are the same for disaster donations as for any other gifts.
That means you need to get a receipt for you gift. You generally don't have to provide the receipt when you file. The IRS only requires that when your donation is $250 or more.
But you will have to itemize to claim your disaster-related donation.
Finally, don't become a victim yourself, this time of a disaster con artist. Creeps Scumbags Con artists often use disasters as hooks to relief generous folks of their funds.
Don't Mess With Taxes posts that have more details:
- Donating and deducting gifts to current, past disaster victims (March 27, 2014)
- Helping Oklahoma tornado survivors, planning for the next natural disaster (May 21, 2013)
- You have a variety of ways to donate to Hurricane Isaac relief (Aug. 30, 2012)
- How you can help tornado victims (March 4, 2012)
- How to help Minneapolis, Joplin tornado victims (May 23, 2011)
- Texting Japan earthquake donations (March 11, 2011)
- Charitable gift giving and tax deduction rules (Jan. 25, 2014)
- Be wary of possible charity-related scams (Nov. 14, 2013; Bankrate.com)
- Is that charity still IRS approved? (May 6, 2012)
- Deductions demand documentation (June 19, 2010)
- Volunteering is laudable, but not deductible (Dec. 31, 2010)
- Volunteer time not tax deductible, but some related contributions might be (Jan. 16, 2017)
- Tax rules for international donation deductions (March 11, 2011)
- Make donations to typhoon victims via U.S.-based nonprofits (Nov. 8, 2013)
- 12 international charitable groups that accept tax-deductible disaster relief donations (Nov. 10, 2013)
- Deadly Tulsa tornado starts slow 2015 storm season (March 26, 2015)
- How you can help Louisiana flood victims (Aug. 20, 2016)
- How to help Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts (Aug. 27, 2017)
- Beware of fake charities in the wake of Hurricane Harvey (Aug. 28, 2017; updated Sept. 19, 2018)
- U.S. tax rules for international donation deductions (Sept. 20, 2017)
- Volunteer vacations provide help, possible tax deduction (March 25, 2018)
- How to help California wildfire victims (Nov. 12, 2018)
Looking for more or other disaster info? Check out the separate Storm Warning pages on preparing for a disaster, steps to make your recovery smoother and quicker, general storm stories and information and additional disaster resources.