IRS offers tax relief to victims of Hurricane Florence

The Internal Revenue Service has extended deadlines for victims of Hurricane Florence victims in parts of North Carolina and elsewhere.

Taxpayers now have until Jan. 31, 2019, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments, the IRS said Saturday. As of Monday morning, the deadly storm had killed at least 17 people, and is still doing damage as it moves across the Carolinas and up the East Coast, with the city of Wilmington effectively cut off as its main roads remain impassable.

The IRS is providing the relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as one that qualifies for individual assistance. As of Saturday, that only included parts of North Carolina, but taxpayers in other areas added later to the disaster area, including those in other states, will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief.

People who live in or own a business in Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender Counties can qualify for relief, and more counties may be added. The current list of eligible places is available on the IRS disaster relief page.

A car stands partially submerged in floodwaters during Tropical Storm Florence near Beulaville, North Carolina.
A car stands partially submerged in floodwaters during Tropical Storm Florence near Beulaville, North Carolina, U.S., on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. Major poultry and meat companies are starting to resume operations in the Carolinas as the torrential rains and flooding unleashed by Hurricane Florence start to subside. Photographer: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg

The tax relief provided by the IRS delays several tax filing and payment deadlines, starting Sept. 7, 2018, in North Carolina. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will get until Jan. 31, 2019, to file their returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period.

That includes quarterly estimated income tax payments due on Sept. 17, 2018, along with quarterly payroll and excise tax returns typically due Sept. 30, 2018. Businesses with extensions also get extra time including, among others, calendar-year partnerships whose 2017 extensions run out on Sept. 17, 2018. Taxpayers who had a valid extension to file their 2017 return by Oct. 15, 2018 will also have more time to file.

Along with that, the IRS said penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Sept. 7, 2018, and before Sept. 24, 2018, will be abated as long as the deposits are made by Sept. 24, 2018.

The IRS disaster relief page offers details on other returns, payments and tax-related actions that qualify for the extra time.

The IRS automatically offers filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. That means taxpayers don't need to contact the IRS to get relief. However, if an affected taxpayer gets a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date that falls within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to get the penalty abated.

Furthermore, the IRS said it will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records needed to meet a deadline happening during the postponement period and are located in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area should contact the IRS at (866) 562-5227. That also includes workers helping with 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 opt to claim them on either the tax return for the year the loss occurred (in this case, the 2018 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2017). More details are available in Publication 547.

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