Disaster Relief Information from the IRS
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A lot has changed in the last six months for certain federally declared disaster areas. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 added relief for the California wildfires and mudslides of late 2017. The Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 included relief for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 granted retroactive relief to all federally declared disaster areas in 2016.
Where can you find information on all these changes? IRS has put together Publication 976, Disaster Relief. The publication includes information for all three of the above mentioned disaster areas with links to several different websites. It has information on casualty loss deductions, provisions allowing for breaks on distributions from retirement accounts, provisions that apply to relief for employers, a description of affected counties that were declared disaster zones or disaster areas, and the various deadlines that apply to each area.
Individuals who meet the requirements for any of the disaster related provisions but were unaware of the new rules, can file an amended return to claim any tax relief that is applicable to them.
In addition, Forms 8915A and 8915B and their instructions were released in time for the 2017 tax filing season. There is a lot of information contained in the instructions for these forms. The forms are used to report disaster related qualified disaster retirement plan distributions and their repayments. If an individual met the requirements for a qualified disaster distribution in 2016 or 2017, they can amend their return and file the appropriate form to claim the benefits that were granted for those qualified disaster distributions.
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