Special rules apply to federally declared disaster area losses. A federally declared disaster is a disaster that occurred in an area declared by the President to be eligible for federal assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. It includes a major disaster or emergency declaration under the act.
A list of the areas warranting public or individual assistance (or both) under the Act is available at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) web site at www.fema.gov.
This part discusses the special rules for when to deduct a disaster area loss and what tax deadlines may be postponed. For other special rules, see Publication 547.taxmap/pubs/p225-047.htm#en_us_publink100081037
You generally must deduct a casualty loss in the year it occurred. However, if you have a deductible loss from a disaster that occurred in an area warranting public or individual assistance (or both), you can choose to deduct that loss on your return or amended return for the tax year immediately preceding the tax year in which the disaster happened. If you make this choice, the loss is treated as having occurred in the preceding year.
Claiming a qualifying disaster loss on the previous year's return may result in a lower tax for that year, often producing or increasing a cash refund.
You must make this choice to take your casualty loss for the disaster in the preceding year by the later of the following dates.
- The due date (without extensions) for filing your tax return for the tax year in which the disaster actually occurred.
- The due date (with extensions) for the return for the preceding tax year.
Do not include post-disaster relief grants received under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act in your income if the grant payments are made to help you meet necessary expenses or serious needs for medical, dental, housing, personal property, transportation, or funeral expenses. Do not deduct casualty losses or medical expenses to the extent they are specifically reimbursed by these disaster relief grants. If the casualty loss was specifically reimbursed by the grant and you received the grant after the year in which you deducted the casualty loss, see Reimbursement received after deducting loss earlier. Unemployment assistance payments under the Act are taxable unemployment compensation. taxmap/pubs/p225-047.htm#en_us_publink100081040
Qualified disaster relief payments are not included in the income of individuals to the extent any expenses compensated by these payments are not otherwise compensated for by insurance or other reimbursement. These payments are not subject to income tax, self-employment tax, or employment taxes (social security, Medicare, and federal unemployment taxes). No withholding applies to these payments.
Qualified disaster relief payments include payments you receive (regardless of the source) for the following expenses.
- Reasonable and necessary personal, family, living, or funeral expenses incurred as a result of a federally declared disaster.
- Reasonable and necessary expenses incurred for the repair or rehabilitation of a personal residence due to a federally declared disaster. (A personal residence can be a rented residence or one you own.)
- Reasonable and necessary expenses incurred for the repair or replacement of the contents of a personal residence due to a federally declared disaster.
Qualified disaster relief payments include amounts paid by a federal, state, or local government in connection with a federally declared disaster to those affected by the disaster.
Qualified disaster relief payments do not include:
- Payments for expenses otherwise paid for by insurance or other reimbursements, or
- Income replacement payments, such as payments of lost wages, lost business income, or unemployment compensation.
Qualified disaster mitigation payments made under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act or the National Flood Insurance Act (as in effect on April 15, 2005) are not included in income. These are payments you, as a property owner, receive to reduce the risk of future damage to your property. You cannot increase your basis in property, or take a deduction or credit, for expenditures made with respect to those payments. taxmap/pubs/p225-047.htm#en_us_publink100081043
Generally, if you sell or otherwise transfer property, you must recognize any gain or loss for tax purposes unless the property is your main home. You report the gain or deduct the loss on your tax return for the year you realize it. (You cannot deduct a loss on personal-use property unless the loss resulted from a casualty, as discussed earlier.) However, if you sell or otherwise transfer property to the Federal Government, a state or local government, or an Indian tribal government under a hazard mitigation program, you can choose to postpone reporting the gain if you buy qualifying replacement property within a certain period of time. See Postponing Gain earlier for the rules that apply.taxmap/pubs/p225-047.htm#en_us_publink100081044
The IRS may postpone for up to 1 year certain tax deadlines of taxpayers who are affected by a federally declared disaster. The tax deadlines the IRS may postpone include those for filing income, excise, and employment tax returns, paying income, excise, and employment taxes, and making contributions to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA.
If any tax deadline is postponed, the IRS will publicize the postponement in your area and publish a news release, revenue ruling, revenue procedure, notice, announcement, or other guidance in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB). taxmap/pubs/p225-047.htm#en_us_publink100081045
If the IRS postpones a tax deadline, the following taxpayers are eligible for the postponement.
- Any individual whose main home is located in a covered disaster area (defined next).
- Any business entity or sole proprietor whose principal place of business is located in a covered disaster area.
- Any individual who is a relief worker affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization and who is assisting in a covered disaster area.
- Any individual, business entity, or sole proprietor whose records are needed to meet a postponed deadline, provided those records are maintained in a covered disaster area. The main home or principal place of business does not have to be located in the covered disaster area.
- Any estate or trust that has tax records necessary to meet a postponed tax deadline, provided those records are maintained in a covered disaster area.
- The spouse on a joint return with a taxpayer who is eligible for postponements.
- Any other person determined by the IRS to be affected by a federally declared disaster.
This is an area of a federally declared disaster area in which the IRS has decided to postpone tax deadlines for up to 1 year. taxmap/pubs/p225-047.htm#en_us_publink100081047
The IRS may abate the interest and penalties on the underpaid income tax for the length of any postponement of tax deadlines.