A number of federal agencies, professional associations and private businesses are continuing to assemble efforts to combat the destruction brought to the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina.

The Internal Revenue Service, one of the first to begin announcing efforts to aid victims, launched a special toll-free telephone number for use by taxpayers affected by Katrina. Callers to the dedicated phone line can find out about available tax relief, get free copies of their tax return transcripts and receive disaster tax loss kits.

Also, affected taxpayers who need copies of tax returns to apply for aid or other purposes can have the normal user fee waived by writing "Hurricane Katrina" in red across the top margin of their Form 4506, "Request for Copy of Tax Return." The number is (866) 562-5227 and can be used Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time.

The American Institute of CPAs is working on a coordinated response with the affected state CPA societies to see how the CPA profession can provide assistance to the victims of the hurricane and expects to issue details soon. In the meantime, it is directing members to contribute to the disaster recovery efforts underway, some of which are listed at www.aicpa.org/news/2005/katrina_relief.htm.

And CCH Tax and Accounting also said it has put into place a disaster recovery plan for customers whose businesses and practices are affected. The program is designed to help all CCH customers who use the company's information and research products and its tax and accounting software portfolio.

The company has activated its customer disaster recovery program, details of which are located at www.cch.com and www.tax.cchgroup.com, or by calling customer support at (800) 344-3734.

The IRS has also urged anyone seeking to make donations to help Hurricane Katrina victims to seek out qualified charities. At its Web site, www.IRS.gov, the agency has an online search feature allowing people to find qualified charities. Some organizations, such as churches and governments may be qualified even though they are not listed.

In addition, the IRS has prepared Publication 3833, "Disaster Relief: Providing Assistance Through Charitable Organizations," that may be helpful for people who want to make contributions or who want to form a new charity.

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