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Disasters, delays and deductions

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Posted: 2 pm ET

Tax day is a week away, but the IRS has given some filers extra time. Of course, the reason for the extended deadline is not what any of them want.

Severe storms that produced flooding means that some taxpayers in New JerseyMassachusettsRhode Island and West Virginia have until May 11 to file their returns.

Such IRS flexibility is common when it comes to natural disasters. In most cases, extra filing time, along with the waiving of penalties, is granted to  individuals who live in affected areas as well as businesses in the damage zones.

The IRS says its computer systems will automatically identify taxpayers located in covered disaster areas and apply automatic filing and payment relief. If that doesn't happen, or if you live in an area outside the designated relief areas (it's county by county) but believe you also should get some tax-time consideration, call the IRS disaster hotline at (866)562-5227 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (866)562-5227      end_of_the_skype_highlighting to discuss your situation.

In addition to the IRS actions, taxpayers also can use tax laws to get extra federal help when they do get around to filing their returns. You can claim your losses as a deduction.

And in presidentially declared disaster areas, you get special loss deduction treatment. You can choose when to file your claim; that is, you can take the loss in the actual tax year it happened, or you can amend the prior year's return and claim the loss there.

Amending could help you get more money, or money sooner, to help pay for much-needed repairs.

Added deadlines: In addition to the special storm-related deadlines, I wanted to remind you of some other tax-related dates.

April 15 is not just the day your 2009 tax return is due. If you pay estimated taxes, your first voucher for 2010 is due then, too.

If you didn't file a tax return in 2006 and think you might have missed out on a refund that year, then next week is the last chance you get to file that tax paperwork and claim that money.

And if you're looking for a house, note April 30 on your calendars. If you want to claim the first-time home buyer credit, either as a totally new buyer or a move-up purchaser, you must have a valid home contract signed by the end of this month. You have until June 30 to actually settle on the home, but miss the April 30 contract deadline and you miss out on this tax break.

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