Hurricane Harvey Casualty Loss and Form 4684

As Tax Day draws nearer, I’ve had a number of questions about Hurricane Harvey and casualty loss. Today, I’ll walk you through what you need to file Form 4684 for casualty loss deductions with your 2017 tax return.

Form 4684, Casualties and Thefts was designed especially for storms like Hurricane Harvey. In 2017, you will be able to take an itemized deduction by completing the form and attaching it to your Form 1040. Also, it’s important to know that twenty counties along the Texas Gulf Coast, including Harris County, were Presidentially Declared Disaster Areas. Once the President declares an area a Presidentially Declared Disaster Area, then the IRS can administratively make temporary changes to the law, such as extending the due dates of returns and estimated tax payments, and they can lift the 10% of AGI threshold for casualty losses. And that is what they did. If your home was flooded and your personal possessions were lost in the flood, then you need to complete Form 4684.

Here is what you will need to complete the form:

  • The cost or basis of your home
  • Your insurance or other reimbursement (ie: FEMA)
  • Your fair market value before the storm
  • Your fair market value after the storm

This is the information you will need to complete your casualty loss deduction. If you struggle with any of these items, such as the FMV of your home after the storm, don’t hesitate to ask your realtor or real estate appraiser, or contact the Harris County Appraisal District. If you need any help with any of this, then please give me a call.

That is all today. I look forward to visiting with you next week. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions — you can call my office at (713) 785-8939 or leave a comment on this post to get in touch.

Is That Knock at the Door Someone From the IRS, or Someone Scary?

Happy Halloween! Read on for an update on the federal aid package for hurricane and wildfire victims. Plus, I teach you how to distinguish an IRS employee form a common scammer—or a neighborhood trick-or-treater.

Disaster Aid Package is Signed by the President

In my October 17 post, I discussed the $36.5 billion aid package for hurricane and wildfire victims that had passed in the House. It finally passed in the Senate and President Trump signed the bill on October 26, 2017. I also mentioned that the financially troubled National Flood Insurance Program would be bailed out—it received approximately $17 billion. I have heard people complain that their loss far exceeded their insurance reimbursement and I have also heard the uninsured speak of how difficult it was to get paid for their loss from FEMA. We now understand that there wasn’t enough aid to go around. Due to this current infusion of aid for disaster relief in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, California, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, I would suggest you go online again.

It’s Halloween! Is That Knock at the Door Someone From the IRS, or Someone Scary?

Children knock on doors pretending to be spooks and movie characters. Scammers don’t limit their impersonations to just one day. People can avoid falling victim to scammers by knowing how and when the IRS does contact a taxpayer in person. These 8 tips can help you determine if an individual is truly an IRS employee.

1. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the USPS.
2. There are special circumstances when the IRS will come to a home or business. These are:

  • When a taxpayer has an overdue bill.
  • When the IRS needs to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent payroll tax payment.
  • To tour a business as part of an audit.
  • As part of a criminal investigation.

3. Generally, home or business visits are unannounced and are made by IRS Revenue Officers.
4. IRS Revenue Officers carry two forms of identification. Both forms have serial numbers, and taxpayers can ask to see both IDs.
5. The IRS can assign certain cases to private debt collectors, but the IRS does this only after giving written notice to the taxpayer or their appointed representative. Private debt collection agencies will never visit a taxpayer at their home or business.
6. The IRS will not ask a taxpayer to make a payment to anyone other than the “United States Treasury.”
7. IRS employees conducting audits may call taxpayers to set up appointments, but only after notifying them by mail.
8. IRS criminal investigators may visit a taxpayer’s home or business unannounced while conducting an investigation. These are federal law enforcement agents and they will not demand any sort of payment. At this stage, you should have a tax attorney and privileged communication.

Taxpayers who believe they were visited by someone impersonating the IRS can visit IRS.gov for information on how to report it.