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H&R Block, Block Advisors announce free tax advisory service to aid victims of natural disasters

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Tue, Nov 7th 2017 01:45 pm
Service to provide guidance on tax relief options, including accelerated tax refunds
To help residents recover financially from recent natural disasters, H&R Block and Block Advisors will offer a new, nationwide, free tax advisory service to help victims navigate extensive tax relief options. Taxpayers impacted by disasters, including those in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, may be eligible for tax relief, including accelerated casualty loss deductions, postponed deadlines and waived fees for tax transcripts or copies of tax returns from the IRS.
"We're launching a free, comprehensive disaster and casualty loss tax advisory service so that taxpayers know all their tax-based financial options for recovery," said Kathy Pickering, vice president of regulatory affairs and executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block. "Tax relief could even mean getting a tax refund before even filing a 2017 tax return, so the financial impact could be swift and significant."
Impacted taxpayers can schedule a disaster and casualty loss tax advisory service appointment to review their specific circumstances, evaluate their tax relief options, receive tools to help them document damage for insurance claims or casualty loss deductions, begin reconstructing their tax history and more. The service is available for individual taxpayers.
To schedule a free advisory appointment, taxpayers should call 1-800-HRBLOCK. All H&R Block clients can access their past returns in their MyBlock account.
Casualty Losses can Provide Substantial Tax Relief, Accelerated Tax Refunds
Taxpayers may find some financial relief for their recovery costs for damaged or lost property by claiming their unreimbursed losses as casualty losses. This can include loss in value related to any disaster-related claims greater than their insurance settlement or expected recovery, whether or not the government declared a national disaster.
Taxpayers in a federal designated disaster area who incur disaster-related casualty losses have a choice about when to claim their losses. A disaster-related casualty loss may either be claimed on a tax return for the year the disaster occurred or on the prior year's original or amended return.
For example, a loss occurring in 2017 may be claimed on the taxpayer's 2017 tax return filed in 2018, or on an original or amended 2016 return filed in 2017. While claiming the loss on the 2016 return results in a faster tax refund, waiting to claim the loss on the 2017 return may result in greater tax savings. Therefore, it is best that tax filers run both scenarios before deciding what to do.
Other Tax Relief includes Postponed Deadlines, Expedited Record Requests
The IRS has granted late-filing relief to affected taxpayers. Individuals and businesses in the affected disaster areas have until Jan. 31, 2018, to file their Oct. 16 extended tax returns. Other deadlines occurring after the disaster that may be postponed include estimated tax payments due on Sept. 15, 2017, and Jan. 16, 2018, and quarterly payroll tax returns due on Oct. 31. Affected taxpayers will not be subject to penalties for failure to pay estimated tax if payments are made by Jan. 31, 2018.
Generally, the IRS identifies affected taxpayers located in the disaster area and automatically applies filing and payment relief. However, a taxpayer could live outside the disaster area and be eligible for relief and would need to call the IRS at 1-866-562-5227 to request tax relief.
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This information provided by H&R Block. Niagara Frontier Publications strives to provide accurate, objective information for its audiences, but cannot provide any guaranty or assurance as to the claims made herein.

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