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IRS Offers Disaster Relief to California and Iowa Taxpayers

Taxpayers in California and Iowa have a little extra time to file their tax returns and pay tax due, thanks to relief measures announced by the Internal Revenue Service.

Victims of California wildfires getting IRS disaster relief.

California has been hit by a series of wildfires going back to Aug. 14. Taxpayers now have until Dec. 15, 2020 to file their various individual and business tax returns and make any tax payments.

The IRS says the relief is for taxpayers and businesses in any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for individual assistance.

This currently includes Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties in California. Taxpayers in other localities that are added to the disaster declaration later will automatically get the same relief.

The most current list of eligible counties and locations is available on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

The IRS says these relief measures postpone various deadlines that occurred starting Aug. 14.

“As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until December 15, 2020, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period,” an IRS release states. “This means individuals who had a valid extension to file their 2019 return due to run out on Oct. 15, 2020, will now have until Dec. 15, 2020, to file.”

It should be noted, however, that because payments related to these 2019 returns were due by July 15, 2020, those payments are not included in the relief package.

The Dec. 15 deadline also applies to quarterly estimated income tax payments due Sept. 15 and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due Oct. 31. It also applies to tax-exempt organizations operating on a calendar-year basis that had a valid extension date to run out on Nov. 15.

Businesses with extensions also have the additional time, including, among others, calendar-year corporations whose 2019 extensions run out on Oct. 15.

IRS is also providing relief for Iowa wind storm victims.

The IRS is also offering filing and payment for victims of a derecho storm that affected Linn County in Iowa. While the deadline for both filing and payment is now Dec. 15, 2020, other deadlines may differ from the California declaration.

At present, the Iowa relief applies only to residents and businesses in Linn County, but may be expanded when other localities are added to the declaration.

The IRS disaster relief page has details on the returns, payments and tax-related actions qualifying for the additional time.There’s no need for taxpayers in California or Iowa to contact the IRS in order to claim their relief. The IRS automatically applies the relief to a tax return or payment by reading the account’s address on record.

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.

Individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area 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 2020 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2019).

Be sure to write the FEMA declaration number – 4557 for Iowa or 4558 for California − on any return claiming a loss. See Publication 547 for details.

SourceIR-2020-191

Bob Williams

Forget genes; I’ve got words in my DNA. Communication has been part of who I am nearly all my life. From a long career in radio news to another one in newspapers – and a University of Georgia journalism degree sandwiched between the two – language has been my life. I’ve also been fortunate to have learned the tax business from the ground up here at Drake, starting with 1040.com online forms some years ago before moving on to work on the Web. In all things tax-ish, we aim to give you tools you can use.

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