IRS relief following Houston-area floods

- The Internal Revenue Service is offering relief for taxpayers affected by the historic level of flooding throughout southeast Texas on Monday. April 18 was the deadline to file federal income tax returns but with the devastating rainfall and flooding, State Senator Paul Bettencourt made the request for help to Governor Greg Abbott, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Michael McCaul to ensure that taxpayers will not be penalized for events that are out of their control. 

The disaster declaration by Governor Abbott includes Austin, Bastrop, Colorado, Fort Bend, Grimes, Harris, Montgomery, Waller and Wharton counties.

“I am pleased that with the help of Governor Abbott, Senator Cruz, and Congressman McCaul, Texans who are impacted by today’s historic flooding can focus on recovery efforts and not on a tax filing deadline,” said Senator Bettencourt, who at one time served as the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector. “I personally know that many banks were closed today, and as a result people were unable to make their federal tax payments. I hope this helps those affected by the storm catch up on their IRS payments in the days and weeks to come.”

The IRS released the following statement on Monday:

The Internal Revenue Service today advised taxpayers who are affected by severe weather in the Houston area and other parts of Texas that they may qualify for relief from penalties if they are unable to meet today’s deadline for filing 2015 tax returns.

There is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund. Taxpayers who owe tax, however, should file when they are reasonably able, and expect a notice regarding late filing and late payment penalties.

The IRS reminds taxpayers they can also qualify for an automatic six-month extension to file their tax returns. The fastest and easiest way to get the extra time is through Free File. Anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension on Form 4868.

The IRS will continue to closely monitor the situation. Disaster declarations with individual assistance for areas are made by FEMA, which allows the IRS to provide additional relief for taxpayers.

If taxpayers receive a notice regarding a penalty, they can request a penalty abatement based on reasonable cause criteria. The IRS will review requests on a case-by-case basis.
Affected taxpayers may request abatement of penalties assessed on their 2015 federal income tax return by:

  1. Contacting the IRS campus that issued the penalty assessment notice. The telephone number is listed on the notice.
  2. Identifying themselves as a taxpayer affected by the severe storms during the period around April 18, 2016.
  3. Requesting penalty relief, based on reasonable cause criteria.
  4. Taxpayers who need to speak with an IRS representative can call 800-829-1040.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this storm and we will continue to do everything possible to assist with the recovery effort,” added Senator Bettencourt. “Some advice from an old Taxman is, if you don’t have any reason for any further delay, be sure to pay sooner rather than later.”

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