CORDELE, Ga. -- As tax time approaches, it is important to remember that federal assistance funds received by disaster victims are not taxable, say officials of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Disaster aid also does not cause recipients to lose U.S. Social Security Administration benefits.
In the wake of the tornado disaster, FEMA and GEMA have awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in disaster payments for housing, personal property, medical care, transportation and other expenses. These payments are not considered additional income for Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Social Security purposes.
The IRS also is extending to April 30 the time to file 2006 individual income tax returns for those residents of the nine Georgia counties declared eligible for FEMA’s Individual Assistance program: Baker, Crawford, Dougherty, McDuffie, Mitchell, Sumter, Taylor, Warren, and Worth.
Taxpayers with an address of record in one of the nine declared counties will be automatically granted the additional time to file and make a tax payment on their 2006 tax return. Affected taxpayers located outside the nine declared counties must identify themselves as eligible by calling the IRS Disaster Hotline at (866) 562-5227.
More information on tax relief in disaster situations is available at www.irs.gov. The IRS toll free number for general tax questions is 1-800-829-1040 or TTY 1-800-325-0778 for those with speech and hearing impairments.
Homeowners, renters and business owners in the nine counties listed above have until May 2 to register for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with impaired speech or hearing can call TTY 800-462-7585. Applicants also can register online at www.fema.gov.
FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.