Hurricane Irene victims could get tax aid from IRS

Vic­tims of Hur­ricane Irene that began on Aug. 26 in parts of Pennsylvania may qual­i­fy for tax re­lief from the In­tern­al Rev­en­ue Ser­vice.

Phil­adelphia was among those counties de­clared fed­er­al dis­aster areas.

The de­clar­a­tion per­mits the IRS to post­pone cer­tain dead­lines for tax­pay­ers who reside or have a busi­ness in the dis­aster area. For in­stance, cer­tain dead­lines fall­ing on or after Aug. 26, and on or be­fore Oct. 31, have been post­poned to Oct. 31. This in­cludes cor­por­a­tions and oth­er busi­nesses that pre­vi­ously ob­tained an ex­ten­sion un­til Sept. 15 to file their 2010 re­turns, and in­di­vidu­als and busi­nesses that re­ceived a sim­il­ar ex­ten­sion un­til Oct. 17. It also in­cludes the es­tim­ated tax pay­ment for the third quarter, nor­mally due Sept. 15.

If an af­fected tax­pay­er re­ceives a pen­alty no­tice from the IRS, the tax­pay­er should call the tele­phone num­ber on the no­tice to have the IRS abate any in­terest and any late fil­ing or late pay­ment pen­al­ties that would oth­er­wise ap­ply. Pen­al­ties or in­terest will be abated only for tax­pay­ers who have an ori­gin­al or ex­ten­ded fil­ing, pay­ment or de­pos­it due date, in­clud­ing an ex­ten­ded fil­ing or pay­ment due date, that falls with­in the post­pone­ment peri­od.

The IRS auto­mat­ic­ally iden­ti­fies tax­pay­ers loc­ated in the covered dis­aster area and ap­plies auto­mat­ic fil­ing and pay­ment re­lief. But af­fected tax­pay­ers who reside or have a busi­ness loc­ated out­side the covered dis­aster area must call the IRS dis­aster hot­line at 1-866-562-5227 to re­quest this tax re­lief.

Af­fected tax­pay­ers in a fed­er­ally de­clared dis­aster area have the op­tion of claim­ing dis­aster-re­lated cas­u­alty losses on their fed­er­al in­come tax re­turn for either this year or last year. Claim­ing the loss on an ori­gin­al or amended re­turn for last year will get the tax­pay­er an earli­er re­fund, but wait­ing to claim the loss on this year’s re­turn could res­ult in a great­er tax sav­ing, de­pend­ing on oth­er in­come factors.

Af­fected tax­pay­ers who are con­tac­ted by the IRS on a col­lec­tion or ex­am­in­a­tion mat­ter should ex­plain how the dis­aster im­pacts them so that the IRS can provide ap­pro­pri­ate con­sid­er­a­tion to their case.

Tax­pay­ers may down­load forms and pub­lic­a­tions from the of­fi­cial IRS Web site,, or or­der them by call­ing 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).

The IRS toll-free num­ber for gen­er­al tax ques­tions is 1-800-829-1040. ••

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