Oklahoma tornado victims get tax filing and payment extensions

BY SALLY P. SCHREIBER, J.D.

On Tuesday, the IRS announced relief from filing and payment deadlines for victims of Monday’s destructive tornadoes in Oklahoma (IR-2013-53). Because the tornado damage was so widespread, the relief has been granted for individuals and businesses in Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie counties in Oklahoma, and the IRS may add other areas in coming days based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) damage assessments. The IRS will automatically abate any interest, late-payment, or late-filing penalty for taxpayers in these counties.

The relief applies to filing and payment deadlines beginning May 18 and extends these deadlines until Sept. 30. Included in this list are (1) the June 17 and Sept. 16 deadlines for estimated tax payments, (2) the July 31 deadline for second quarter payroll and excise tax returns, and (3) the Sept. 3 deadline for truckers’ highway use tax returns. The relief for payroll and excise tax deposit deadlines (as opposed to returns) waives failure-to-deposit penalties for deposits normally due on or after May 18 and before June 3 if the deposits are made by June 3.    

People who live outside the disaster area but whose books, records, or tax preparers are in the affected areas and people assisting with the recovery effort through a recognized government or philanthropic organization can also qualify for relief. These people should call the IRS at 866-562-5227.

The IRS reminded taxpayers that they can choose to deduct casualty losses from this disaster on their 2012 return (as permitted when a disaster has been declared), which will enable them to get a refund on their 2012 taxes, or wait to claim the loss on their 2013 return. 

The IRS indicated that it is continuing to monitor the situation and further relief may be forthcoming if needed.

Sally P. Schreiber ( sschreiber@aicpa.org ) is a JofA senior editor.

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