Taxpayers affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita now have until Feb. 28, 2006 to file tax returns and pay any taxes due, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Taxpayers affected by the hurricanes may be eligible for tax relief regardless of where they live.
For taxpayers located in the hardest-hit areas -- those counties or parishes designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as "individual assistance areas" -- the tax relief will be automatic, and taxpayers won't need to do anything to get the extensions and other relief available.

In areas where FEMA has determined damage is more isolated - designated "public assistance areas" -- or for other taxpayers outside the hardest-hit areas whose books, records or tax professionals are located in the affected areas, people will need to identify themselves to the IRS as hurricane victims.

Taxpayers who need to identify themselves as hurricane victims should write "Hurricane Katrina" or "Hurricane Rita" in red ink at the top of their tax forms or any other documents filed with the IRS. Taxpayers who need to alert the IRS or have other hurricane-related questions can also call the special IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227.

The IRS will abate interest and late-filing, late-payment or failure-to-deposit penalties that would otherwise apply. For those affected by Hurricane Katrina, this relief includes the Sept. 15, 2005 and Jan. 15, 2006 due dates for estimated taxes for individuals and the Sept. 15 and Dec. 15 due dates for estimated taxes for corporations; and the Sept. 15 due date for calendar-year corporate returns with automatic extensions.

For both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita victims, relief includes the Oct. 17, 2005, deadline for individuals who received a second extension for filing their individual income tax returns; the Oct. 31, 2005 and Jan. 31, 2006, deadlines for filing quarterly federal employment and excise tax returns; and employment and excise deposits due on or before Feb. 28, 2006. In addition, any disaster-area taxpayer who receives a penalty notice from the IRS should call the number on the notice to receive penalty abatement.

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