NEW ORLEANS — Victims of the severe storms and flooding that took place beginning March 8, 2016 in parts of Louisiana may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service.
The President has declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Louisiana. Following the recent disaster declaration for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the IRS announced that affected taxpayers in Louisiana will receive tax relief.
The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after March 8, and on or before July 15, 2016 have been postponed to July 15, 2016. This includes 2015 income tax returns normally due on April 18. It also includes the April 18 and June 15 deadlines for making quarterly estimated tax payments. A variety of business tax deadlines are also affected including the May 2 deadlines for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns.
Congressman John Fleming, M.D. released the following statement after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that individuals who live or own a business in over one-third of Louisiana’s parishes may qualify for tax relief:
“Many people in Louisiana have lost papers critical to filing their taxes and are worried about meeting the April 18 deadline. The IRS has recently announced that taxpayers that live or own a business within certain parishes automatically qualify for a tax filing extension. Deadlines that fell on or after March 8 have been postponed to July 15, 2016. And those that suffered damage but live outside the area may call the IRS hotline to request an extension.”
As of today, the following parishes qualify: Allen; Ascension; Beauregard; Bienville; Bossier; Caddo; Calcasieu; Caldwell; Claiborne; De Soto; Grant; La Salle; Livingston; Madison; Morehouse; Natchitoches; Ouachita; Richland; St. Tammany; Tangipahoa; Union; Vernon; Washington; Webster; West Carroll; Winn.
In addition, the IRS is waiving the failure-to-deposit penalties for employment and excise tax deposits due on or after March 8, as long as the deposits were made by March 23, 2016.
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 that falls within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate the penalty.
The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.
Covered Disaster Area
The counties listed above constitute a covered disaster area for purposes of Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(2) and are entitled to the relief detailed below.
Taxpayers considered to be affected taxpayers eligible for the postponement of time to file returns, pay taxes and perform other time-sensitive acts are those taxpayers listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(1), and include individuals who live, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster area. Taxpayers not in the covered disaster area, but whose records necessary to meet a deadline listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c) are in the covered disaster area, are also entitled to relief. In addition, all relief workers affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization assisting in the relief activities in the covered disaster area and any individual visiting the covered disaster area who was killed or injured as a result of the disaster are entitled to relief.
Grant of Relief
Under section 7508A, the IRS gives affected taxpayers until July 15, 2016 to file most tax returns (including individual, corporate, and estate and trust income tax returns; partnership returns, S corporation returns, and trust returns; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax returns; and employment and certain excise tax returns), or to make tax payments, including estimated tax payments, that have either an original or extended due date occurring on or after March 8,2016 and on or before July 15, 2016.
The IRS also gives affected taxpayers until July 15, 2016 to perform other time-sensitive actions described in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c)(1) and Rev. Proc. 2007-56, 2007-34 I.R.B. 388 (Aug. 20, 2007), that are due to be performed on or after March 8, 2016, and before July15, 2016.
This relief also includes the filing of Form 5500 series returns, in the manner described in section 8 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56. The relief described in section 17 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56, pertaining to like-kind exchanges of property, also applies to certain taxpayers who are not otherwise affected taxpayers and may include acts required to be performed before or after the period above.
The postponement of time to file and pay does not apply to information returns in the W-2, 1098, 1099 series, or to Forms 1042-S or 8027. Penalties for failure to timely file information returns can be waived under existing procedures for reasonable cause. Likewise, the postponement does not apply to employment and excise tax deposits. The IRS, however, will abate penalties for failure to make timely employment and excise tax deposits due on or after March 8 and on or before March 23, provided the taxpayer made these deposits by March 23, 2016.
Affected taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area have the option of claiming disaster-related casualty losses on their federal income tax return for either the year in which the event occurred, or the prior year. See Publication 547 for details.
Affected taxpayers claiming the disaster loss on a 2015 return should put the Disaster Designation “Louisiana, Severe Storms, and Flooding” at the top of the form so that the IRS can expedite the processing of the refund.
The IRS will waive the usual fees and expedite requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for affected taxpayers. Taxpayers should put the assigned Disaster Designation “Arkansas, Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds, and Flooding” in red ink at the top of Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, as appropriate, and submit it to the IRS.
Affected taxpayers who are contacted by the IRS on a collection or examination matter should explain how the disaster impacts them so that the IRS can provide appropriate consideration to their case.
Taxpayers may download forms and publications from the official IRS website, irs.gov, or order them by calling 800-829-3676. The IRS toll-free number for general tax questions is 800-829-1040.