Tax Relief in Wake of Hurricane Matthew

One of the most surprising things that I’ve discovered after becoming a tax accountant is that the IRS isn’t totally heartless. Is it a massive governmental bureaucracy that is sick and tired of hearing every excuse as to why you can’t file your taxes? Of course. Are there a few agents who wouldn’t qualify to donate to a heart transplant patient because there’s nothing to hand over? Absolutely, every big organization has a few people like that.

All that doesn’t mean doesn’t mean that the IRS doesn’t try to help out in little ways when there’s legitimate reason not to file taxes. For example, if you happened to be living in the epicenter of a massive hurricane.

This is a valid reason to file late

This is a valid reason to file late

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, the IRS is allowing those affected to file their various returns late (as late as March 15, 2017). Based on the latest list from CCH, the following counties qualify:

  • North Carolina: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson counties.

  • South Carolina: Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper, Marion, Orangeburg and Williamsburg counties.

  • Georgia: Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties.

  • Florida: Brevard, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Nassau, St. Johns, St. Lucie and Volusia counties

The allowed late filing includes those who extended their tax returns to October 17th (yesterday’s individual filing deadline), only to find they couldn’t put things together at the last minute due to this latest natural disaster.

So that’s nice.

Something else that could be helpful is that affected taxpayers can deduct their casualty losses and personal property losses not covered by insurance on their 2015 tax returns, even though the Hurricane Matthew happened here in 2016. This bit of relief means that taxpayers could file or amend their 2015 tax return and potentially get a tax refund now based on the damage to their property rather than waiting until April 2017 (or later).

More information on how to claim those losses can be found here.

Is an extra deduction and being able to file late that much of a relief for those who had to deal with such a massive storm? Maybe not. But at least it’s something. Better than having IRS agents knocking on water soaked doors asking for money right away.