A major disaster like Hurricane Harvey and Irma impacts individuals across the country. Those in communities affected by the hurricane have to rebuild their lives and may wonder how the IRS looks at these disasters. People far and wide who want to donate for hurricane relief risk giving to a fake charity. Learn what the IRS has to say regarding Hurricane Harvey relief.
Affected by Hurricane Harvey? IRS Tips
FEMA has a map of communities that qualify for disaster relief.
If you were adversely affected by the hurricane, you may be able to withdraw funds from your retirement account, penalty-free. The IRS has relaxed rules around these disbursals for individuals affected by Harvey. To use the money you've saved to rebuild your life after the flooding, make a hardship withdrawal from your retirement account by January 31, 2018.
While the government normally fines filling stations for selling dyed diesel fuel for use on highways, this penalty is waived through September 15 due to fuel shortages.
If you filed an extension on your taxes, the deadline has been extended further due to Harvey. Now, individuals and businesses have until January 31, 2018, to file their 2016 taxes. The deadline has also been extended for estimated tax payments, such as quarterly self-employment taxes. Penalties for taxes, including penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits, are waived as well.
Donating for Harvey or Irma Relief? Avoid Scams
Scammers go to great lengths to make their scams look authentic. Before you donate, look up "organization + scam" in a search engine. If you find scam search results, look for a different way to donate for hurricane relief. When donating money, pay with a credit card rather than a debit card; this gives you greater protection to dispute the charges.
In the case of a federally-declared disaster, an affected taxpayer can call 866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues. For more information on preparing for disasters, the IRS urges tax-payers to visit their website.