Washington (Oct. 29, 2003) -- The Internal Revenue Service has announced special tax relief for Southern California residents in the Presidential Disaster Area that was struck by wildfires beginning Oct. 21, 2003. The disaster area counties are: Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura.

• The FTD Penalty Waiver Period for employment and excise tax deposits is Oct. 21 - Nov. 7, 2003.

• The Extension Period for returns and other tax payments is Oct. 21 through Dec. 29, 2003.

• The Disaster Designation for this area is “CA Wildfires” - taxpayers mark certain relief-related forms with this designation.

For the purposes of this tax relief, affected taxpayers include individuals and businesses located in the disaster area, those whose tax records are located in the disaster area, and relief workers. The same relief will also apply to any places added to the disaster area.

This extension to file and pay does not apply to information returns, or to employment and excise tax deposits. However, the IRS may abate penalties on such deposits for affected taxpayers due to reasonable cause during the FTD Penalty Waiver Period, provided they make the payment by the last day of that period.

To qualify for this relief, affected taxpayers should put the assigned Disaster Designation in red ink at the top of the return, except for Form 5500, where filers should check Box D in Part 1 and attach a statement, following the form’s instructions. Individuals or businesses located in the disaster area - or taxpayers outside the area that were directly affected by this disaster - should contact the IRS if they receive penalties for filing returns or paying taxes late.

Affected taxpayers claiming the disaster loss on last year’s return should put the Disaster Designation in red ink at the top of the form so that the IRS can expedite the processing of the refund.

The IRS will waive the usual fees and expedite requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for affected taxpayers who need them to apply for benefits or to file amended returns claiming casualty losses. Such taxpayers should put the assigned Disaster Designation in red ink at the top of Form 4506, “Request for Copy or Transcript of Tax Form,” and submit it to the IRS.

-- WebCPA staff

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