IRS Expands Relief to Victims of Hurricanes, California Wildfires

By John Iekel • November 01, 2017 • 0 Comments
The IRS has expanded the relief it is providing to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the California wildfires. It already has provided relief to victims of these natural disasters.

Maria and Wildfires

In Announcement 2017-15 the IRS says that it is permitting easier access to funds held in workplace retirement plans and in IRAs, for certain victims of Hurricane Maria and the California wildfires. The IRS and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) previously announced relief from some deadlines and requirements relevant to retirement plans for certain victims of the wildfires in California.

The IRS says in the Oct. 31 announcement that it will not treat a qualified employer plan as failing to satisfy any requirement under the Internal Revenue Code or Treasury regulations if the plan makes a loan, or a hardship distribution for a need arising from Hurricane Maria or the California wildfires, to an employee or former employee whose principal residence was located in one of the areas identified for individual assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency because of the devastation caused by these disasters or whose place of employment was located in one of these areas on that date or whose lineal ascendant or descendant, dependent or spouse had a principal residence or place of employment in one of these areas on the following dates:

  • Sept. 16, 2017, in the case of the U.S. Virgin Islands;
  • Sept. 17, 2017, in the case of Puerto Rico; or
  • Oct. 8, 2017, in the case of California.
The relief is available through March 15, 2018.

Announcement 2017-15 will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2017-47, dated Nov. 20, 2017.

Fresh Irma Relief

The IRS announced on Oct. 24 that victims of Hurricane Irma that took place beginning on Sept. 6, 2017 in parts of South Carolina may qualify for tax relief. Individuals who reside or have a business in Allendale, Anderson, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Edgefield, Georgetown, Hampton, Jasper, McCormick, Oconee and Pickens counties may qualify for tax relief.

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Sept. 6, 2017, and before Jan. 31, 2018, are granted additional time to file through Jan. 31, 2018. This includes taxpayers who had a valid extension to file their 2016 return that was due to run out on Oct. 16, 2017. It also includes the quarterly estimated income tax payments due on Sept. 15, 2017, and Jan. 16, 2018, and quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Oct 31, 2017. Tax-exempt organizations that operate on a calendar year basis and had an automatic extension due to run out on Nov. 15, 2017 are also included.

In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Sept. 6, 2017, and before Sept. 21, 2017, will be abated as long as the deposits were made by Sept. 21, 2017.

If an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date that falls within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate the penalty.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.

Harvey Relief Redux

The IRS announced on Oct. 24 that victims of Tropical Storm Harvey that took place beginning on Aug. 27, 2017, in parts of Louisiana may qualify for tax relief.

Individuals who reside or have a business in Acadia, Allen, Assumption, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, DeSoto, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, Natchitoches, Plaquemines, Rapides, Red River, Sabine, St. Charles, St. Mary, Vermilion and Vernon parishes may qualify for tax relief.

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Aug. 27, 2017, and before Jan. 31, 2018, are granted additional time to file through Jan. 31, 2018. This includes taxpayers who had a valid extension to file their 2016 return that was due to run out on Oct. 16, 2017. It also includes the quarterly estimated income tax payments originally due on Sept. 15, 2017, and Jan. 16, 2018, and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Oct. 31, 2017. In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Aug. 27, 2017, and before Sept. 11, 2018, will be abated as long as the deposits were made by Sept. 11, 2017.

If an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date that falls within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate the penalty.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.