Federal, state and local authorities have issued various forms of tax relief for those affected by Hurricane Sandy last week.
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The IRS has extended a number of tax filing and payment deadlines for taxpayers in a number of counties Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, and said that other areas may be added based on future damage assessments by FEMA. Currently, individuals and businesses in the areas list below will have until Feb. 1, 2013, to file returns and pay any taxes due, including for the fourth quarter individual estimated payments, which would normally be due Jan. 15, 2013, as well as payroll and excise tax returns and payments normally due on Oct. 31, 2012, and Jan. 31, 2012. It also applies to tax-exempt organizations required to file a Form 990 with a deadline in this period. The service will also abate any interest, late-payment or late-filing penalty.
All of this relief is automatic, and taxpayers do not need to contact the IRS to get it.
In addition, the IRS is waiving failure-to-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after the disaster area start date and before Nov. 26, if the deposits are made by Nov. 26, 2012.
The IRS also said that would work with taxpayers outside the designated areas with difficulty accessing books, records or tax professionals from within them. Workers helping recognized government or philanthropic organizations in the disaster areas are eligible for relief, and taxpayers who live outside the areas but think they may qualify can call the IRS at (866) 562-5227. The service also has advice for disaster victims on its YouTube channel.
Finally, the IRS alerted employers and other taxpayers that because Hurricane Sandy is designated as a qualified disaster for federal tax purposes, qualified disaster relief payments made to individuals by their employer or anyone else can be excluded from those individuals' taxable income. Qualified relief payments include money for necessary personal, family, living or funeral expenses that were not covered by insurance, as well as expenses to repair or rehabilitate personal residences or repair or replace the contents to the extent that they were not covered by insurance.
The area where relief applies currently incude: in Connecticut starting October 27, Fairfield, Middlesex, New Haven, and New London Counties, and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Mohegan Tribal Nation located within New London County; in New Jersey, starting October 26, Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset and Union Counties; and in New York, starting October 27, Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester Counties.
The Department of Revenue Services has extended the deadline for state tax filings and payments due last week to the end of the business day on November 7. Some of the state tax deadlines that were extended from October 31 include monthly and quarterly sales and use tax, income tax withholding, and various gross earnings taxes. A complete list is available on the DRS Web site.
The state also waived state commercial tax registration requirements for out-of-state fuel supplies, storm contractors and others coming into the state on an emergency basis.
"Taxes are the last thing [people affected by the storm] should worry about," said DRS Commissioner Kevin Sullivan.
The state extended certain tax filing and payment deadlines that would have been due October 30 and 31 to November 7. Filings and payments covered by the state extension include Form NJ-927, Employer's Quarterly Report; Form DSF-100, Domestic Security Fee Quarterly Return; and Form TMF-10, Transporter of Motor Fuels Report.
Those eligible for the extensions include businesses in the state, out-of-state business that operate in New Jersey, and those with tax records located there. They may also be eligible for an interest and penalty abatement of tax for the period of postponement, and if they receive a billing notice, should contact the N.J. Division of Taxation to explain their circumstances.
For more information, contact the division online, or call (609) 292-6400.
New York State
The State Department of Taxation and Finance has extended to November 14 most tax filing and payment deadlines for those affected by Sandy for the period beginning October 26 and ending before November 14. Most personal and corporate taxes and payments are included.
Taxpayers do not need to apply for a waiver or an extension to obtain relief. Paper filers should write "Hurricane Sandy" on the top center of the front page of any late-filed return or other form, and attach a brief description of the circumstances that adversely affected the ability to meet the deadline.
The state has also extended the remittance period for income tax withheld by employers, and for the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax.
More information is available on the Tax Department Web site or by calling (518) 457-5431.
New York City
The Department of Finance is offering relief similar to what the state is offering.