COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio residents affected by the severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that occurred between January 3 - 30 will be eligible for various forms of tax relief that could lessen some losses, federal and state recovery officials said today.
“The U.S. Internal Revenue Service permits those with casualty losses suffered as a result of the disaster to claim this year’s losses on their 2003 return or to amend last year’s return if it’s already been mailed in,” said Ron Sherman, federal coordinating officer, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “The advantage of this is it can result in a quicker refund than is available if the losses are filed on returns for 2004.”
Casualty losses for tax purposes generally are based on the decrease in fair market value of the property as a result of the disaster, minus any insurance payments or other reimbursements received. The IRS will ask for the latest tax return, estimates of repairs, before and after photographs, appraisals or any other loss documentation.
The disaster tax program is available to taxpayers living in one of the disaster-declared counties who have sustained losses as a direct result of the severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that occurred between January 3 – 30. The eligible counties are Belmont, Franklin, Jefferson, Licking, Morgan, Ross, Tuscarawas and Washington.
“We want all who suffered losses to access the maximum benefits available. This is one of those benefits,” said Dale Shipley, executive director and state coordinating officer, Ohio Emergency Management Agency.
Shipley advises people affected by the disaster to check with their local county auditor about the possibility of claiming a reduction in the taxable value of property destroyed or damaged.
“The amount of reduction would be prorated based on the calendar quarter in which the damage occurred,” Shipley said. Property owners must file an application with the county auditor for a reduction within 30 days of the end of the quarter in which the damaged occurred.
Casualty losses can be claimed on IRS form 4684. You can obtain a copy of IRS publication 547 and 2194 to help guide you through the process. Both the form and publication, and more information, can be found at the IRS website at www.IRS.gov or by calling toll free at 1-800-829-1040.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.
The Ohio EMA coordinates State assistance and resources during an emergency and prepares the state for all hazards through planning, training, exercises and funding activities at the state and local level. This includes providing assistance to individuals and administering state and federal assistance to individuals and governmental entities recovering from disaster-related damage and costs. Ohio EMA coordinates homeland security funding, weapons of mass destruction training, anti-terrorism planning and training, and assists local and state agencies determine homeland security strategies and priorities.