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Tax planning for hurricanes

By Kay Bell ·
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Posted: 3 pm ET

Little did I realize when 2004's rash of  hurricanes literally drove us out of Florida would I be worrying about these storms here in landlocked Austin, Texas. But life is funny sometimes.

Since the hubby and I moved back home to the Lone Star State, we've watched Katrina come into the Gulf, then Rita along with a variety of other storms that skirted our coast but still managed to send some hurricane-spawned storms into Central Texas. And, of course, we get our share of tornadoes in the spring.

The problem we face here in Austin during hurricane season is low-lying areas.  That means flash floods from the torrential rains that hurricanes can drive miles and miles inland. As any weather geek will tell you, more folks suffer damage to life and property due to flooding following the storms.

So I've been glued again to the Weather Channel, watching where forecasters say Alex will make landfall.

If you're doing the same, it's also time to become a bit of a financial and tax geek, too. Since you're reading this, you've got a good head start!

First, make sure you're ready financially to deal with what a hurricane could bring. Bankrate has lots of good advice in this area, such as ways to avoid hurricane costs and documents you'll need when disaster strikes.

Now for the tax geek part. I want to make sure that you also know that once a storm hits, be it a 'cane or blizzard or tornado or any type of natural disaster, you might be able to get some tax help, too.

The IRS typically provides folks affected by a disaster some extra time to take care of tax responsibilities.

You also can claim some of your losses as an itemized deduction on your next or,  depending on the severity of the storm, a prior tax return. Filing an amended tax return to get relief soon is available when a presidential disaster is declared, a standard event with hurricanes.

By refiling your previous year's return, you could get much needed cash from the IRS to start making repairs as soon as possible.

The key thing now, before any storm hits, is to know what tax options are available so that if the worst does happen, you can get as much help from Uncle Sam as you're entitled to receive.

Now back to Jim Cantore's updates!

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