Tax Breaks

Tax Deadlines Extended for Puerto Rico Storm Victims

Certain tax filing and payment deadlines are extended for people impacted by the Puerto Rico storms, flooding and landslides in February.

The IRS has granted victims of a recent natural disaster in Puerto Rico more time to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. Specifically, victims of the severe storms, flooding and landslides that began on February 4, 2022, now have until June 15, 2022, to file and pay tax returns and payments due between February 4 and June 14.

The tax relief is available to anyone in any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for individual assistance. At this point, only affected taxpayers who live or have a business in Cataño, Dorado, Toa Baja, Vega Alta and Vega Baja qualify for the extensions, but the IRS will offer the same relief to any taxpayers in other Puerto Rico localities designated by FEMA later.

The IRS will also work with other people who live 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. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization and anyone visiting the impacted area who was killed or injured as a result of the disaster.

Deadlines Extended

The deadlines that are pushed back include the April 18, 2022, due date for filing a 2021 personal income tax return and paying 2021 taxes, and various business returns normally due March 15 and April 18. Storm victims in the designated area will also have until June 15 to make 2021 IRA contributions.

Puerto Rico storm victims will also get more time to make the first quarterly estimated tax payment for the year that's due on April 18, 2022. In addition, farmers who would normally skip estimated payments and file their returns by March 1, 2022, can now wait until June 15 to file their 2021 return and pay any tax due.

The due date for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on May 2, 2022, are extended to June 15 for Puerto Rico storm victims, too. Penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due from February 4 to February 21 will also be waived as long as the deposits were made by February 22, 2022.

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.

Deduction for Damaged or Lost Property

Victims of the Puerto Rico storms, flooding and landslides 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 the tax return for the year the damage or loss of property occurred or for the previous year. So, for any damage or loss in 2022, the deduction can be claimed on either a 2021 tax year return or a 2022 return. In either case, you must write the FEMA declaration number on the return claiming the deduction. For the recent Puerto Rico storms, flooding and landslides, the number is DR-4649-PR.

If you decide to claim a deduction for 2021 and you have already filed your 2021 tax return, you can amend your 2021 return by filing Form 1040X. For this purpose, you must file the amended return no later than six months after the due date for filing your return (without extensions) for the year in which the loss took place. So, for Puerto Rico storms, flooding and landslide losses in 2022, you would need to file an amended 2021 return by October 16, 2023. Affected taxpayers claiming the disaster loss on an amended 2021 return should also put the Disaster Designation ("Puerto Rico Severe Storm, Flooding, and Landslides") in bold letters at the top of the form. See IRS Publication 547 for details.

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