After a catastrophe, who do you call? The IRS.
The Internal Revenue Code, administered by the IRS, provides some much-needed relief to eligible victims of major -- aka presidentially declared -- disasters.
In these extreme cases, which millions of Americans have endured so far this year thanks to the most active tornado season on record, people who've suffered storm losses might be able to file an amended tax return for the previous tax year and get refund money sooner.
Hurricane time: Tax help in disastrous times also got the weekly tip nod because today marks the beginning of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.
- 12 to 18 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which:
- six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including:
- three to six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).
Basically, says the NOAA, tropical storm and hurricane activity that could affect the continental United States will exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
Colorado State University forecasters offer similar predictions: 16 tropical storms, with nine growing into hurricanes.
Buckle up, folks. It could be a rough ride this year.
Prepare now: You can cope with any disaster better if you're prepared. And one of the very few good things about a hurricane is that you do have plenty of time to get ready.
In addition to putting together a disaster survival kit, which can help you make it through the aftermath of all types of calamities, you need to create a financial storm plan.
Have cash on hand. After a storm there will be power outages. In a worst-case scenario, your bank branch might be destroyed. With no physical building and no electricity, access to your money will be impossible.
The lack of power also means that any stores that will be open probably won't be able to process credit card transactions. So you'll need cash to buy whatever you need (and is available).
Do, however, have at least one credit card that has a big enough credit balance to see you through possible weeks of having to charge purchases. You'll need it if you have to move into temporary lodging for a while.
Also make sure to put insurance policies (health, home, auto), medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, and any other financial documents you have on hand into a weather-proof container.
In fact, make copies of all these documents and then put your originals in a safety deposit box or send to a trusted relative who lives outside the storm strike zone.
For financial information stored on your computer, download it to a CD or flash drive or mail it to yourself.
You'll need this data for claims.
Speaking of claims, put copies of tax records in your financial disaster kit. That information will help if you find that filing an amended tax return is your best option.
I know it's no fun to think of the worst thing that could happen, but being prepared could help you make it through such an unthinkable situation.
- Tax relief for disaster victims
- How to help Minneapolis, Joplin (and other) tornado victims
- April's terrible, tragic tornado toll
- Time to make disaster preparations
- Financial and tax tips for storm season
Want to tell your friends about this blog post? Check out the buttons -- Tweet This, Reblog, Like, Digg This and more -- at the bottom of this post. Or you can use the Share This icon to spread the word via e-mail and online avenues. Thanks!