What You Need to Know About Tax Relief for Victims of Natural Disasters

florida damage

Natural disasters such as winter ice storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires have struck repeatedly in 2017, affecting millions of Americans. A spate of hurricanes in August and September have devastated coastal areas in Texas and Florida as well as U.S. territories in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, pushing the IRS to spring into action with tax relief.

The tax code authorizes immediate relief for individuals — whose homes, household goods, and other properties suffer damage or are destroyed by such disasters — in the form of deductions and other tax breaks for casualty losses caused by events that the IRS describes as “sudden, unexpected, or unusual.”

Frequently, however, allowable write-offs turn out to be smaller than anticipated. Furthermore, individuals with high incomes and low losses will find they aren’t allowed any disaster-related deductions.  

What follows are answers to some often-asked questions about disasters.

Q: What are the long-standing limitations on claiming casualty losses?

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About Julian Block

Julian Block

Attorney and author Julian Block is frequently quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He has been cited as “a leading tax professional” (New York Times), an “accomplished writer on taxes” (Wall Street Journal), and “an authority on tax planning” (Financial Planning magazine). More information about his books can be found at julianblocktaxexpert.com


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