Can Florence Victims Expect Any Help from the IRS?
In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irmo in 2017, individual taxpayers and businesses were granted some extra time by the IRS to complete their filings and pay taxes. Will those impacted by Florence in 2018 be afforded the same help? Yes. According to the IRS, the same extensions granted to Harvey and Irma victims in 2017 also apply to Florence victims in 2018.
The extra time granted by the IRS applies to both individual taxpayers and most businesses in the affected regions. However, it must be noted that only those individuals and businesses located in areas designated as disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are eligible for the relief.
Currently, federally designated disaster areas are limited to certain parts of the Carolinas. As is often the case after significant storms, areas are added to the list of recognized disaster areas as the federal government approves local and regional applications. Taxpayers and business owners who believe their local areas will eventually be designated as disaster areas should not assume. They should keep to their regular tax schedules until such time as a disaster designation is approved.
Three Types of Tax Relief
As for the relief itself, the IRS is not eliminating the need to file and pay taxes. They are only offering extensions to those affected by the storm. Those extensions cover the following three areas only:
- Estimated Tax Payments – Sole proprietors and others who pay quarterly estimated tax payments would normally have been required to make their third quarter payments by September 17. Those taxes can now be delayed until January 31, 2019.
- Filing Extensions – Any taxpayers or businesses in affected areas who had previously filed for extensions set to expire on September 17 or October 15 are automatically given a new extension date of January 31, 2019.
- Payroll and Excise Taxes – Companies with payroll and excise tax deposits due on dates between September 7 and September 24 will not be penalized for late payments as long as deposits are made no later than the 24th.
The third type of relief is most important to payroll departments at companies in affected regions. The 17-day extension does not relieve businesses and their payroll departments from paying those taxes, it merely gives them more time to do so, explains the Texas-based BenefitMall.
Determining Eligibility for Relief
Victims of Florence can take comfort in knowing that IRS relief is automatically granted to people in designated disaster areas. Neither taxpayers nor businesses have to do anything special to take advantage of the relief. There are no forms to fill out, no phone calls to be made, etc. However, it’s up to individuals and business owners to correctly determine if they are located in a disaster area.
Those interested in the relief can visit the IRS disaster relief page on the IRS.gov website. The IRS maintains an updated list of designated disaster areas following storms like Florence.
In the event a taxpayer or business is eligible for relief but is still penalized for not filing or paying on time, an appeal to have those penalties abated can be made. As long as the affected party is legally located in a federally designated disaster area so designated as a result of Florence, the penalties will be waived.
If you are an individual taxpayer or business owner impacted by hurricane Florence, check with the IRS or FEMA to see if your local area has been designated a disaster area. If so, you have been automatically granted relief from the IRS for filing and paying certain kinds of taxes.