THOMASVILLE, Ga. -- Free legal assistance is now available to help low-income residents of Colquitt, Decatur, Grady, Mitchell and Tift counties cope with legal questions related to the Valentine's Day tornadoes. These disaster legal services will be provided by volunteer attorneys and are intended for individuals and families unable to pay lawyer fees.
The volunteer attorneys will be available to answer calls and provide help Monday through Friday, from 9 AM to 5 PM at the following area numbers:
- Albany Branch Office: 1-800-735-4271
- Tifton Branch Office: 912-386-3566
- Valdosta Branch Office: 1-800-546-5232
The lawyers can help with insurance claims for property losses and medical bills, assist in drawing up new wills and replacing deeds and other valuable documents, advise property owners on contracting for home repairs, help with landlord problems and prepare powers of attorney if needed.
Tornado Survivors May Be Eligible For Tax Relief
With the 1999 tax filing deadline only several weeks away, individual taxpayers who sustained losses as a result of this year's Valentine's Day tornadoes in the five presidentially-declared southwest Georgia counties may be able to get tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The IRS allows federal income-tax deductions for underinsured or uninsured casualty losses on homes, personal property and household goods. Eligible tornado survivors in Colquitt, Decatur, Grady, Mitchell and Tift counties may file amended returns for the previous year (1999) to receive early tax refunds.
Generally, casualty losses for tax purposes are calculated based on the decrease in fair-market value of the property or the basis (usually cost plus improvements), whichever is less. Also, losses are reduced by the amount of any received or expected insurance reimbursements. Certain income restrictions and other rules also apply.
Taxpayers should consider this option carefully because it may be more advantageous to wait to claim their losses on 2000 tax returns due next April. Taxpayers may call 1-800-829-1040 for assistance.