The Internal Revenue Service is lending a hand to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria by offering temporary relief from some requirements of the tax code to owners and operators of low-income housing projects who have room to shelter some of the displaced people.

The relief applies to owners and operators of low-income housing projects anywhere in the U.S. and its possessions, enabling them to provide temporary emergency housing to individuals who are displaced by a major disaster from their principal residences, regardless of income.

The tax relief actually dates back to 2014. Revenue Procedures 2014-49 and 2014-50 enable owners and operators, along with agencies and issuers, to disregard the income limits, transience rules and some other restrictions that usually apply to low-income housing units when providing temporary emergency housing to displaced individuals. That means owners and operators can offer temporary emergency housing to displaced individuals who lived in a county or other local jurisdiction designated for individual assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This now encompasses parts of Texas, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but FEMA may add other locations in the future. When it’s approved, the emergency housing can be offered for up to a year after the close of the month in which the major disaster was declared by the president.

The relief automatically applies as soon as the President declares a major disaster and FEMA designates any locality for individual or public assistance. For that reason, individuals affected by some other recent major disasters, including in parts of Michigan, West Virginia and other areas, can also qualify for emergency housing relief. For a list of recent disasters, see the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

However, the IRS pointed out that owners and operators of low-income housing projects are allowed to offer temporary housing to qualified disaster victims, but they’re not required to do so. For those who do, special rules apply, spelled out in Revenue Procedure 2014-49 and Revenue Procedure 2014-50. Information on other tax relief offered by the IRS in response to the recent hurricanes is available at www.irs.gov/hurricaneharvey and www.irs.gov/hurricaneirma. For information on government-wide relief efforts, visit www.usa.gov/hurricane-harvey or www.usa.gov/hurricane-irma.

Residents enter their flooded home to collect personal belongings in Bonita Springs, Florida, after Hurricane Irma.
Residents enter their flooded home to collect personal belongings in Bonita Springs, Florida, after Hurricane Irma. Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

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