IRS Issues Tax Relief to Hurricane Harvey Victims and Warns of Charity Scams

Posted on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 ©2021 Drucker & Scaccetti

By: Eric R. Elmore

 

The IRS announced Hurricane Harvey victims in parts of Texas have until January 31, 2018, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments.  This includes an additional filing extension for taxpayers with valid extensions that run out on October 16, and businesses with extensions that run out on September 15.  It also warned of possible charity scams related to the storm. If you or anyone you know was effected by the storm, is volunteering with relief efforts, or if you plan on making a charitable contribution to support the victims of this natural disaster, please read today’s Tax Warrior Chronicles post.

 

Tax Relief

 

The IRS is now offering this expanded relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as qualifying for individual assistance. 18 counties are eligible, but taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief.

 

The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on August 23, 2017. Affected individuals and businesses will have until January 31, 2018, to file returns and pay any taxes originally due during this period. This includes the September 15, 2017 and January 16, 2018 deadlines for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For individual tax filers, it also includes 2016 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until October 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.

 

Many business tax deadlines are also affected including the October 31 deadline for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after August 23 and before September 7, if the deposits are made by September 7, 2017. Details on 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 in the disaster area. 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 with 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 during the postponement period are in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area should contact their tax advisor immediately or the IRS at (866) 562-5227. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.

 

Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (2017 returns filed in 2018), or the return for the prior year (2016 returns filed in 2017).  See Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts for details.

 

As of the date of this posting, the following Texas counties are eligible for relief: Aransas, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Harris, Jackson, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria and Wharton.

 

Beware of Scams

 

While there has been an enormous wave of support across the country for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, people should know of criminals who look to take advantage of this generosity by impersonating charities to get money or private information from well-meaning taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in-person solicitations.

 

Criminals often send emails that steer recipients to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes. These sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities to persuade people to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.

 

The IRS and The Tax Warriors® caution those wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:

  • Donate only to recognized charities.
  • Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, through which people may find qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible.
  • Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution. Scam artists may use this information to steal a donor’s identity and money.
  • Never give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card.
  • Consult IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions which describes the tax rules that apply to making legitimate tax-deductible donations. It also explains what records to keep.

 

Drucker & Scaccetti is here to help you protect, sustain and grow your wealth.  If you need help navigating the government’s tax relief programs for Hurricane Harvey victims, call on us. We can thoughtfully and skillfully help you determine the best route to take for you, your business and/or your family.

Topics: donations, Charities, volunteers, Hurricane, Tax, IRS, Relief, Allison, Houston, Corpus Christie, Scams, red cross, catrina, Katrina, Harvey, Texas, Rockport, TX, Victoria, Flooding, FEMA, Gulf of Mexico

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