Oregon Wildfire Victims Get More Time to Pay Taxes

The tax relief is currently available to Oregon wildfire victims in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn and Marion counties.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Victims of the Oregon wildfires and straight-line winds that began September 7 now have until January 15, 2021, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments

The tax relief is available to anyone in any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for individual assistance. Currently this includes Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn and Marion counties However, taxpayers in places added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief.

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.

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Deadlines Extended

The deadlines that are pushed back include the October 15, 2020, due date for filing a 2019 income tax return that was extended (the original due date was July 15, 2020). However, because 2019 income tax payments were due on July 15, those payments are not eligible for this relief.

Oregon wildfire victims will also have until January 15 to make quarterly estimated tax payments due on September 15, 2020.

The January 15 extended deadline also applies to quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on November 2. Various other due dates for business tax filings and payments are extended, too.

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 relief page (opens in new tab) has details on other returns, payments and tax-related actions qualifying for additional time.

Deduction for Damaged or Lost Property

Victims of the Oregon wildfires and straight-line winds 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab).

The deduction can be claimed on either a 2019 tax year return or a 2020 return (which is due next year). In either case, a you must write the FEMA declaration number – 4562 – on the return claiming the deduction. Also write "Oregon - Wildfires and Straight-line Winds" in bold letters at the top of the form.

If you decide to claim a deduction for 2019 and you have already filed your 2019 return, you can amend your 2019 return by filing Form 1040X (opens in new tab). For this purpose, you must file your amended prior-year return no later than six months after the due date for filing your current-year return (without extensions) for the year in which the loss took place. So, for Oregon wildfire losses, you would need to file an amended 2019 return by October 15, 2021.

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

Rocky Mengle
Senior Tax Editor, Kiplinger.com

Rocky was a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger from October 2018 to January 2023. He has more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, he worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky has a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.