Kinder, Gentler IRS Gives Automatic Blackout Extension

Much like the tax relief measures instituted by the Internal Revenue Service after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, an automatic extension of time to file tax returns has been granted by the IRS to victims of the August 14 power outage that affected several northeastern states.

For taxpayers affected by the blackout, the due date for tax returns that were due on August 15 is automatically extended one week to Friday, August 22, 2003. Tax returns due between August 15 and August 22 are also extended to August 22.

"We recognize that individuals and businesses will need time to recover after the power is restored, which is why we are granting this additional time," said IRS Commissioner Mark Everson in a statement.

Tax returns that were due August 15 through August 22 will be considered as timely and not subject to a penalty if they are filed by August 22. Tax payments, including employment and excise tax deposits, that were due on August 15 through August 22, will also be exempt from penalty if made by August 22.

While such tax returns and tax payments are exempt from penalty for the week's delay in filing, interest will still apply to payments made after the original due date of August 15. Also, any penalties that were already in place, such as late filing penalties for tax returns not properly extended to August 15, will still apply.

The IRS has reported that this year more than 8.5 million individual tax returns are on extension to August 15.

The automatic extension applies to individuals and businesses located in blackout areas, and to individuals and businesses whose tax records, including records needed for tax deposits, are located in the blackout areas.

Taxpayers wishing to take advantage of this penalty abatement should write "NORTHEAST BLACKOUT" in red ink at the top of the tax return to which the relief should apply.

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