Updated for filing 2021 tax returns
When disasters happen, taxpayers often have access to certain kinds of tax relief. On the federal level, taxpayers have access to certain types of tax relief if the event is a declared disaster.
What is a “declared disaster?”
A declared disaster is an event that causes enough damage that a state requires federal aid.
How is an event declared a major disaster?
Once the event takes place, the state affected assesses the damage and determines if there are enough resources to respond. If not, the state determines what kind of federal assistance is needed, and submits a request to the President of the United States. If the president agrees, they declare the event a major disaster, and federal aid is sent.
To determine who qualifies for aid, disaster areas are designated, typically by county. Any individuals who live or runs a business in a disaster area qualify for relief and are referred to as affected taxpayers.
Taxpayers are also considered “affected” if records necessary to meet a filing or payment deadline postponed during the relief period are located in a covered disaster area.
What sort of tax relief can I get during or after a declared disaster?
Tax relief includes automatic filing deadline extensions for individuals and businesses, deferred penalties, deferred taxes, deductions for disaster-related losses, and more. The type of aid will depend on the type of disaster and the ways it has affected the community.
Which states and counties currently have tax deadline extensions?
The IRS typically provides a window for deadline extensions; any deadline that falls in that window usually gets pushed to the last day of the window. For example, if the IRS has a window from January 1 to May 15, most tax deadlines that fall between those dates will be pushed to May 15.