COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio residents affected by the flooding between May 18 and June 21 may be eligible for tax relief that could lessen some of their losses, federal and state recovery officials said today.
“The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) permits those with casualty losses from the disaster to claim this year’s losses on last year’s income tax return, even if it’s already been sent in,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Lee Champagne of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “This can result in a quicker refund.”
The disaster tax program is available to taxpayers who live in one of the 23 designated counties and who sustained losses as a direct result of the flooding. The eligible counties are Athens, Carroll, Columbiana, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Delaware, Geauga, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Holmes, Licking, Logan, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Noble, Perry, Portage, Richland, Stark, Summit, and Tuscarawas.
The federal tax relief, in effect for presidentially declared disasters, may include filing extensions and relaxation of interest and late-filing penalties on returns or taxes for reasonable cause.
In addition, any federal or state grants received under the current disaster declaration are tax-free, and do not need to be reported as income, Champagne said.
“We want everyone who suffered losses to access the programs if they are eligible,” said Dale W. Shipley, state coordinating officer and executive director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.
Shipley also advised people affected by the disaster to check with their county auditor about a reduction in the taxable value of property destroyed or damaged.
“The reduction would be prorated based on the calendar quarter when the damage occurred,” Shipley said. Property owners must file an application for a reduction with the county auditor within 30 days of the end of the quarter in which the damage occurred – in this case, by July 30.
For federal taxes, casualty losses can be claimed on IRS form 4684. You can obtain a copy of IRS publications 547 and 2194 to help guide you through the process. Both the form and publications, and more information, can be found at www.IRS.gov or by calling the IRS toll free at 1-800-829-1040.
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 strategies and priorities.
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 the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.