The Internal Revenue Service announced that several thousand telephone operators are helping the Federal Emergency Management Agency answer calls from Hurricane Katrina victims.
The IRS had nearly 2,750 employees working the lines Wednesday at locations in Atlanta, Buffalo, N.Y., Dallas and Philadelphia. By Friday, the number of IRS employees is expected to reach nearly 5,000 as hurricane victims call in and provide IRS employees with basic information, such as their name, address and types of property damage.
"We've given the FEMA registration process priority over our regular telephone service to taxpayers," said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson, in a statement. "By calling back to work over 4,000 of our seasonal workers, we are speeding assistance to hurricane victims while minimizing disruption to our normal taxpayer services."
Those needing FEMA assistance can call (800) 621-FEMA.
Through mid-day Wednesday, IRS employees had answered 175,000 calls. Regular IRS telephone operations involving tax questions will continue during this period, and the IRS has established a toll-free number for Katrina victims, (866) 562-5227. The IRS also announced that Katrina relief workers will have until Jan. 3, 2006, to file any returns and pay any taxes due. In general, this means that relief workers are entitled to the same extensions that apply to individuals and businesses located in the disaster area. Workers can receive the extension by marking the top of appropriate forms in red ink with, "Hurricane Katrina."
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