WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued guidance to provide relief to residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who evacuated or couldn’t return because of Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria. The relief extends the usual 14-day absence period to 117 days (beginning September 6, 2017 and ending December 31, 2017) for the presence test for residency under the tax rules. Further, an individual who is absent from either U.S. territory on any day during this 117-day period will be treated as leaving or being unable to return to the relevant U.S. territory as a result of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria on such day.
There are several exceptions to the general 183-day presence test that require an individual to be in the location where he or she claims residence for 183 days during the tax year. Usually, residents could include up to 14 days in the 183-day period because of a declared disaster.
However, because of the unprecedented and catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued Notices of a Presidential declaration of a major disaster for both territories and the IRS in Notice 2017-56 has extended the 14-day period to 117 days.
Publication 570 contain an explanation of the presence test for residents of territories such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Tax-exempt organizations in parts of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands may qualify for tax relief from the IRS. Organizations may get some extra time to file returns if they:
- are in the Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma disaster areas, and
- have a filing due date after the hurricane hit and before Jan. 31, 2018.
These organizations now have until Jan. 31, 2018 to file. The relief applies to original and extended due dates in this period. The start date of the relief varies by area.
- Texas: Aug. 23, 2017
- Florida: Sept. 4, 2017
- Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands: Sept. 5, 2017
About annual information returns for tax-exempt organizations:
- Most organizations are required to file an information return each year. These may include Forms 990, 990-PF, 990-EZ, 990-T or 990-N.
- The normal due date for 990 returns is the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of the organization’s accounting period. For example, if it runs on a calendar-year, the due date is May 15.
- Organizations can use Form 8868 to request six more months to file. An organization that runs on a calendar-year basis would then have until Nov. 15 to file.
To reconstruct lost records, organizations can follow these tips:
- Returns: Request copies from the IRS using Form 4506-A.
- Payroll records: If an organization uses a payroll service, it can request records. If they do not, federal and state agencies may be able to supply records. Checks from the bank or employees’ pay stubs can help as well.
- Donation records: Use bank records or other electronic files.
See the record reconstruction page on IRS.gov for more tips on replacing lost records.
For more information, including a current list of counties and other localities that are eligible for this relief, visit the Help for Hurricane Harvey Victims, Help for Hurricane Irma Victims, Tax Relief in Disaster Situations and Around the Nationpages on IRS.gov.
The IRS is watching matters closely to resolve tax administration issues that arise. For the latest news, check the Disaster Situations pages on IRS.gov. The IRS updates disaster relief information frequently.
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The Internal Revenue Service today issued a warning about possible fake charity scams emerging due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and encouraged taxpayers to seek out recognized charitable groups for their donations.
While there has been an enormous wave of support across the country for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, people should be aware of criminals who look to take advantage of this generosity by impersonating charities to get money or private information from well-meaning taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in-person solicitations.
Criminals often send emails that steer recipients to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes. These sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in order to persuade people to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.
IRS.gov has the tools people need to quickly and easily check the status of charitable organizations.
The IRS cautions people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:
- Be sure to donate to recognized charities.
- Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, through which people may find qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible.
- Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution. Scam artists may use this information to steal a donor’s identity and money.
- Never give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.
- Consult IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, available on IRS.gov. This free booklet describes the tax rules that apply to making legitimate tax-deductible donations. Among other things, it also provides complete details on what records to keep.
Taxpayers suspecting fraud by email should visit IRS.gov and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.”
More information about tax scams and schemes may be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.” Details on available relief can be found on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.