• James D. Lynch

California Wildfire Relief from the IRS

Wildfire victims in parts of California now have until Jan. 3, 2022, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. Currently, this includes Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Tehama and Trinity counties. Any jurisdiction added to the FEMA declaration will automatically receive the IRS relief.


This relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on July 14, 2021. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until Jan. 3, 2022, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This means individuals who had a valid extension to file their 2020 return that ran out on Oct. 15, 2021, will now have until Jan. 3, 2022, to file. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2020 returns were due on May 17, 2021, those payments are not eligible for this relief.


The Jan. 3, 2022 deadline also applies to quarterly estimated income tax payments due on Sept. 15, 2021, and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns that were due on Aug. 2 and Nov. 1, 2021.


The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Therefore, taxpayers do not need to contact the agency to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.


In addition, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.


Individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2021 return that is normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2020).