The Moore American


October 23, 2013

Claims on tax returns part of disaster recovery

MOORE — Taxes are not high on the to-do list for the millions impacted by federally declared disasters every year, but tax breaks can play a part in the rebuilding process. Five months after the devastating tornado in Oklahoma, taxpayers should consider taxes during their rebuilding process.

“The Moore tornado affected tens of thousands of Oklahoma residents and H&R Block is here to help our neighbors get back on track,” said Adrienne Coats of H&R Block in Moore. “Taxpayers need to know there is monetary relief in the form of their tax return.”

Casualty losses can result in larger refunds: Many homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies have restrictions, including some that don’t cover natural disasters or flooding. Claiming disaster-related casualty losses for damaged or lost property is a way taxpayers can find financial relief for recovery costs that came out of their own pockets. This includes homeowner’s and renter’s deductibles on any claims made that were disaster-related.

Taxpayers in the seven Oklahoma counties declared federal disaster areas in May have the option of claiming these 2013 disaster-related casualty losses on the 2013 return, which will be filed in 2014, or on an original or amended 2012 tax return.

Waiting to claim the loss on the 2013 return could result in greater tax savings, however, claiming a loss on a 2012 return allows disaster victims to recoup their losses more quickly. Taxpayers should ask a tax professional for assistance in choosing the best option.

“Now that five months have passed, taxpayers have a better idea of their losses. Amending an already filed return from the year before the disaster may bring a better financial result than waiting to claim the loss on the 2013 return,” Coats said.

Tornado-damaged Moore H&R Block office rebuilding underway: Disaster victims may need to reconstruct their financial records to prove a casualty loss occurred for insurance reimbursement and tax purposes. Obtaining prior year tax returns for tax and insurance purposes is a common challenge faced by severe weather incident victims.

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