The Internal Revenue Service said it is extending the filing deadlines for victims of the wildfires in Southern California.

Taxpayers in the presidentially declared disaster area, including Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, have until Jan. 31, 2008, to file their returns, pay taxes and perform other time-sensitive functions.

"As California taxpayers start the recovery process, the last thing they should worry about is meeting a tax deadline," said IRS Acting Commissioner Linda Stiff in a statement.

The deadline applies to items that were due on or after Oct. 21, 2007, the date the fires started, and on or before Jan. 31, 2008. That includes the federal withholding tax return, Form 941, which is normally due Oct. 31, and the estimated tax payment for the fourth quarter, normally due Jan. 15.

The IRS is also waiving the failure-to-deposit penalty for employment and excise deposits due on or after Oct. 21, 2007, and on or before Nov. 5, 2007, as long as the deposits are made by Nov. 5. IRS computer systems will automatically identify taxpayers located within the covered disaster area and apply the filing and payment relief.

Affected taxpayers who work or reside outside the disaster area should call the IRS disaster hotline at (866) 562-5227 to identify themselves as eligible. Taxpayers also have the option of claiming disaster-related casualty losses on their income tax returns.

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