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Tax Tip 2020-140: What happens after a disaster that leads to taxpayer relief

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

No matter how devastating a disaster is, before the IRS can authorize any tax relief, FEMA must issue a major disaster declaration and identify areas qualifying for their Individual Assistance program.

Here's a list of tax-related things that usually happen after a major disaster strikes:

The IRS gives taxpayers more time to file and pay.
Taxpayers whose address of record is located in an area identified by FEMA for their Individual Assistance program will automatically receive extra time from the IRS to file returns and pay taxes. The IRS's disaster assistance page provides disaster updates and links to resources. Information is usually available on the IRS Twitter account as well. Taxpayers can also call the agency’s disaster line at 866-532-5227 with questions.

Taxpayers can qualify for a casualty loss tax deduction.
People who have damaged or lost property due to a federally declared disaster may qualify to claim a casualty loss deduction. They can claim this on their current or prior-year tax return. This may result in a larger refund.

People can apply for a disaster loan or grant.
The Small Business Administration offers financial help to business owners, homeowners and renters. This help is for those in a federally declared disaster area. To qualify, a taxpayer must have filed all required tax returns.

Taxpayers might need a tax return transcript.
People who need a tax transcript to support their disaster claims can obtain free transcripts by using Get Transcript to access their transcripts immediately online or to request mail delivery. They can also call 800-908-9946 to request mail delivery or submit Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

People who need a copy of their tax return, should file Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. The IRS waives the usual fees and expedites requests for copies of tax returns for people who need them to apply for disaster-related benefits or to file amended returns claiming disaster-related losses. If filing Forms 4506-T or 4506, the taxpayer should state on the form the request is disaster related and list the state and type of event. This helps speed up the process.

People who relocate need to submit a change of address.
After a disaster, people might need to temporarily relocate. Those who move should notify the IRS of their new address by submitting Form 8822, Change of Address.

The IRS encourages affected taxpayers to review all federal disaster relief at

More information:
FAQs for disaster victims
Publication 2194, Disaster Resource Guide for Individuals and Businesses
Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook, Personal-Use Property
Publication 584-B, Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook
Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts