IRS Gives Tax Relief to Victims of California Wildfires; Extension Filers Have Until Jan. 31 to File
Victims of wildfires ravaging parts of California now have until Jan. 31, 2018, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service announced.
This includes an additional filing extension for taxpayers with valid extensions that run out this coming Monday, Oct. 16.
Currently, the IRS is providing relief to seven California counties: Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Sonoma and Yuba. Individuals and businesses in these localities, as well as firefighters and relief workers who live elsewhere, qualify for the extension. The agency will continue to closely monitor this disaster and may provide other relief to these and other affected localities.
The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Oct. 8, 2017. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until Jan. 31, 2018, to file returns and pay any taxes originally due during this period.
This includes the Jan. 16, 2018 deadline for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For individual tax filers, it also includes 2016 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until Oct. 16, 2017. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2016 returns were originally due on April 18, 2017, those payments are not eligible for this relief.
A variety of business tax deadlines are also affected, including the Oct. 31 deadline for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. Calendar-year tax-exempt organizations whose 2016 extensions run out on Nov. 15, 2017 also qualify for the extra time.
In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due after Oct. 8 and before Oct. 23, if the deposits are made by Oct. 23, 2017. Details on available relief can be found on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.
The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Thus, taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.
In addition, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227. This also includes firefighters and workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.
Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2017 return normally filed next year) or the return for the prior year (2016). See Publication 547 for details.
The tax relief is part of a coordinated federal response to the damage caused by these wildfires and is based on local damage assessments by FEMA. For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.
IRS Provides Tax Relief to Residents of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
The Internal Revenue Service issued guidance to provide relief to residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who evacuated or couldn’t return because of Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria. The relief extends the usual 14-day absence period to 117 days (beginning September 6, 2017 and ending December 31, 2017) for the presence test for residency under the tax rules. Further, an individual who is absent from either U.S. territory on any day during this 117-day period will be treated as leaving or being unable to return to the relevant U.S. territory as a result of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria on such day.
There are several exceptions to the general 183-day presence test that require an individual to be in the location where he or she claims residence for 183 days during the tax year. Usually, residents could include up to 14 days in the 183-day period because of a declared disaster.
However, because of the unprecedented and catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued Notices of a Presidential declaration of a major disaster for both territories and the IRS in Notice 2017-56 has extended the 14-day period to 117 days.
Publication 570 contain an explanation of the presence test for residents of territories such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.