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Not everyone affected will qualify for disaster relief, tax experts say

Sunday, April 16, 2006

SIKESTON -- While some residents of Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid and Pemiscot counties may qualify for special tax relief because of recent violent weather, local tax experts are cautioning don't make any assumptions.

Phil Black, a Sikeston CPA, said in his conversations with Maria Randall, an IRS agent assisting with the program, she noted that not everyone will qualify for the tax relief. "She explained that people shouldn't just assume they qualify and not file their taxes," said Black.

The IRS agent explained to Black that those seeking the tax relief must have a self-identified themselves in advance to the IRS that they have significant damage to their home or records that would affect ability to file return by Monday. She recommended calling in advance to IRS at 1-866-562-5227.

According to a news release issued by the IRS office in St. Louis on Friday, affected taxpayers will need to identify themselves to the IRS as victims by writing ("Storms/Tornadoes - MO") in red ink at the top of their tax forms or any other documents filed with the IRS. Taxpayers who file electronic returns may use this disaster designation if the tax preparation software contains a "disaster feature."

Taxpayers who do show the significant damage to their homes or records or those who are directly involved in the relief recovery efforts will have until June 5 to file most tax returns (including individual, corporate, and estate and trust income tax returns; partnership returns, S corporation returns, and trust returns; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax returns; and employment and certain excise tax returns), or to make tax payments, including estimated tax payments, that have either an original or extended due date falling on or after March 30, 2006, and on or before June 5, 2006.

The news release also stated that in addition, the IRS will waive the failure to deposit penalty for employment and excise deposits due on or after March 30, 2006, and on or before April 18, 2006, as long as the deposits were made by April 18, 2006. If any affected taxpayer receives a penalty notice from the IRS, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the IRS abate any interest and any late filing or late payment penalties that would otherwise apply during the period from March 30, 2006 to June 5, 2006 (March 30 to April 18, 2006 for failure to deposit penalties). No penalty or interest will be abated for taxpayers that do not have a filing, payment or deposit due date (including an extended filing or payment due date) during this period.

Black cautioned there is a great deal of confusion about the announcement about the grace period involving taxes. He suggested those with questions contact the IRS toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040.

Also future information is available at thee IRS Web site at www.irs.gov.