Tax Breaks

IRS Extends Tax Due Dates for Hurricane Laura Victims

Victims of Hurricane Laura have until the end of the year to file tax returns and make tax payments.

Victims of Hurricane Laura will have until December 31, 2020, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments.

The tax relief is available for taxpayers in any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for individual assistance. Currently, this includes Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Vernon parishes in Louisiana. However, taxpayers in places added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief. (Check the IRS disaster relief page for updated lists of eligible localities.)

The IRS will also work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose tax records are in the disaster area. Call the IRS at 866-562-5227 if you face this situation.

Deadlines Extended

The deadlines that are extended include the October 15, 2020, personal income tax return filing deadline for people who had a valid extension to file their 2019 return. (Note, however, that because tax payments related to these 2019 returns were due on July 15, 2020, those payments are not eligible for this relief.) Businesses with income tax filing extensions also have additional time, including calendar-year corporations whose 2019 extensions run out on October 15, 2020.

The end-of-the-year deadline also applies to quarterly estimated tax payments due on September 15, 2020, and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on November 2, 2020. It also applies to tax-exempt organizations operating on a calendar-year basis that had a valid extension due to run out on November 16, 2020.

Penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due after August 22 and before September 8 will also be abated as long as the deposits are made by September 8, 2020.

Taxpayers don't need to contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected person receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS, he or she should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

The IRS disaster assistance and emergency relief page has details on other returns, payments and tax-related actions qualifying for additional time.

Deduction for Damaged or Lost Property

Hurricane Laura victims may be able to claim a tax deduction for unreimbursed damaged or lost property. To do so, they typically must itemize and file Schedule A with their tax return. However, victims who claim the standard deduction may still be able to deduct their losses if they can claim them as business losses on Schedule C.

The deduction can be claimed on either a 2019 tax year return or a 2020 return (which is due April 15, 2021). If you already filed your 2019 tax return, you can file an amended return to claim the deduction and get a refund sooner. In either case, a Hurricane Laura victim must write the FEMA declaration number – 4559 – on the return claiming the deduction.

For more information on tax help available to people impacted by Hurricane Laura, see Tax Relief for Hurricane, Wildfire, Flood and Other Natural Disaster Victims.

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