Filing relief granted for California fires, Iowa storms

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Victims of the California wildfires that began Aug. 14 now have until Dec. 15 to file various individual and business federal returns and make tax payments, as do victims of the Aug. 10 derecho storm that affected parts of Iowa.

The IRS is offering this relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as qualifying for individual assistance. In California, currently this includes Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo Counties. Taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same relief.

(The current list of eligible localities is always available on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.)

The relief postpones filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Aug. 14. Individuals who had a valid extension to file their 2019 return due to run out on Oct. 15 will now have until Dec. 15 to file. Because tax payments related to these returns were due on July 15, however, those payments are ineligible.

The Dec. 15 deadline also applies to quarterly estimated income tax payments due on Sept. 15 and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Oct. 31. It also applies to tax-exempt organizations, operating on a calendar-year basis, that had a valid extension due to run out on Nov. 15. Businesses with extensions also have the additional time including, among others, calendar-year corporations whose 2019 extensions run out on Oct. 15.

Penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due after Aug. 14 and before Aug. 31 will be abated as long as the deposits are made by Aug. 31.

In parts of Iowa, victims of the Aug. 10 derecho storm also have until Dec. 15 to file various individual and business returns and make payments, the IRS said.

Currently this includes Linn County in Iowa, but taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same relief.

The relief in Iowa postpones filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Aug. 10. Other changed due dates are the same as for California, except that penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due after Aug. 10 and before Aug. 25 in Iowa will be abated as long as the deposits are made by Aug. 25.

The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located 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 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 (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). They should the FEMA declaration number -- 4558 for California, 4557 for Iowa -- on any return claiming a loss.

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IRS Tax relief Natural disasters California fires
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