Tax Relief Granted for Hurricane Rita

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Monday announced that deadlines for taxpayers and businesses in the areas of Texas and Louisiana affected by Hurricane Rita have been postponed to February 28, 2006.

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Deadlines for filing returns, paying taxes and performing other time-sensitive acts have been extended to the same date Congress granted to taxpayers affected by Hurricane Katrina. In addition to the postponed deadlines, the IRS announced interest and fees resulting from late filing, late payments or failure to deposit penalties will be abated for any tax return, payment of deposit having an original or extended due date on or after September 23, 2005.

Tax relief will be automatic for taxpayers from nine counties in Texas and five parishes in Louisiana that have been designated “individual assistance areas” by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The counties in Texas include:

  • Chambers
  • Galveston
  • Hardin
  • Jasper
  • Jefferson
  • Liberty
  • Newton
  • Orange
  • Tyler.

The parishes in Louisiana include:

  • Beauregard
  • Cameron
  • Calcasieu
  • Jefferson Davis
  • Vermillion.

Taxpayers outside the hardest hit areas whose books, records or even tax professionals are located within the affected areas may obtain relief by identifying themselves to the IRS as hurricane victims. Businesses whose primary business locations in the covered area are also eligible for tax relief. So are relief workers assisting in relief activities in the covered areas even if they are not working with a recognized government or philanthropic organization. Taxpayers, businesses and relief workers within the designated as public assistance areas, should write “Hurricane Rita” in Red ink at the top of their tax forms or other documents filed with the IRS.

According to a statement issued by the IRS, the extension applies to most tax returns (including individual income tax returns, corporation and S-corporation income tax returns, partnership tax returns, estate and trust income tax returns, estate and gift tax returns, exempt organization returns employment tax returns and certain excise tax returns), making tax payments (including estimated tax payments) and other time-sensitive actions.

The extension does not apply to information returns in the W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 series, to Forms 1042-S or 8027 or to employment or excise tax deposits due on or before February 28 according to the IRS. Penalties for failure to file information returns in a timely manner can be waived for reasonable cause and penalties for failure to make timely deposits will be abated provided the deposits are made prior to February 28.

Taxpayers needing to alert the IRS to hurricane-related delays or who have hurricane-related questions can contact the IRS using the special IRS disaster hotline at 1-866-562-5227.

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