Tax relief granted for Hurricane Delta, California wildfire victims

Advice

Victims of disasters that occurred earlier this fall now have more time to file various federal individual and business tax returns and make tax payments.

To victims of Hurricane Delta, the IRS is offering relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as qualifying for assistance. Currently this includes Acadia, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermilion Parishes in Louisiana.

The relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Oct. 6. Affected individuals and businesses will have until Feb. 16, 2021, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. Individuals who had a valid extension until Oct. 15 to file their 2019 return also now have until Feb. 16 to file. For any of these localities earlier impacted by Hurricane Laura, this also means an additional extension beyond the Dec. 31 deadline announced in August.

Tax payments related to these 2019 returns that were were due on July 15 are not eligible for this relief.

The February 2021 deadline also applies to quarterly estimated income tax payments due on Jan. 15, 2021, and to quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Nov. 2, 2020, and Feb. 1, 2021. It similarly applies to tax-exempt organizations, operating on a calendar-year basis, that had a valid extension due to run out on Nov. 16.

Businesses with extensions also have the additional time including, among others, calendar-year corporations whose 2019 extensions ran out on Oct. 15.

Penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Oct. 6 and before Oct. 21, will be abated as long as the deposits are made by Oct. 21, 2020.

Firefighters at the Soda Rock Vineyards during the Kincade fire in late October.

Phil Pacheco/Bloomberg

Fire relief

In California, victims of the wildfires that began on Sept. 4 now have until Jan. 15, to file various federal individual and business returns and make tax payments. By FEMA designation, affected California counties now include Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego and Siskiyou.

This relief is separate from that for the August California wildfires.

This relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Sept. 4, 2020. Affected individuals and businesses have until Jan. 15 to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period, including individuals who had a valid extension to file their 2019 return by Oct. 15. Again, tax payments related to these 2019 returns that were due on July 15, 2020, are ineligible for this relief.

The Jan. 15 deadline applies to quarterly estimated income tax payments due on Sept. 15 and to quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Nov. 2. It also applies to tax-exempt organizations, operating on a calendar-year basis, that had a valid extension due to run out on Nov. 16. Businesses with extensions also have the additional time including, among others, calendar-year corporations whose 2019 extensions ran out on Oct. 15. Penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Sept. 4 and before Sept. 21 will be abated as long as the deposits were made by Sept. 21.

The IRS automatically provides this relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record in the disaster area. If an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated. The IRS will also work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are in the affected area.

Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at (866) 562-5227. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.

Individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2020 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2019). Write the FEMA declaration number — 4570 for Hurricane Delta, 4569 for the California wildfires — on a return claiming a loss.

Taxpayers in qualifying localities added later will automatically receive relief. The current list of eligible localities is on the IRS disaster relief page.

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