IRS grants relief to Hurricane Irma victims

The IRS is granting tax relief to Floridians hardest hit by Hurricane Irma.

Taxpayers who live in one of 16 counties that FEMA has designated as eligible for damage reimbursement will have extended filing and payment deadlines as well as the ability to make hardship withdrawals from 401(k) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans, the agency announced Tuesday.

The relief is similar to that granted victims of Hurricane Harvey.

"This has been a devastating storm for the Southeastern part of the country, and the IRS will move quickly to provide tax relief for victims," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "The IRS will continue to closely monitor the storm's aftermath, and we anticipate providing additional relief for other affected areas in the near future."

The relief being granted includes:

Extending filing deadlines for taxpayers with valid extensions that run out on Oct. 16, and businesses with extensions that run out on Sept. 15.

Delaying a variety of business tax deadlines, including the Oct. 31 deadline for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns.

Allowing hardship withdrawals, made by Jan. 31, 2018, from retirement plans such as 401(k)s without penalty for a variety of purposes, including food and shelter, and by individuals who live outside the affected area but are using the money to help an immediate family member who is.

The relief is available only to counties that the Federal Emergency Management Administration has designated for individual assistance, which allows residents to receive federal aid for damages not covered by their property insurance policies.

As of Tuesday evening, that designation had been granted to only 16 of Florida’s 67 counties: Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Duval, Flagler, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Putnam, Sarasota, and St. John’s. Florida lawmakers are pressing the Trump administration to add more counties to the list.

The IRS traditionally has granted such relief in the aftermath of devastating disasters but both Florida senators – Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio – had pressed the agency to take such steps quickly.

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