Disaster Feed

The 2018 Atlantic basin tropical storm season, which began early with Alberto's late May arrival, is now officially here. Get ready for possible storms. And note that tax law changes mean you might not get any tax help with your recovery efforts this year. Remember this? A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite caught Hurricanes Katia and Irma and Tropical Storm Jose (left to right) lining up on Sept. 8, 2017. Mother Nature has her own calendar. She ignored today's official start of the 2018 Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season by, in late May, creating Tropical Storm Alberto. That storm... Read more →


A tropical system off of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula is expected to move north over the Memorial Day weekend. (The Weather Channel screenshot) The 2018 tropical storm season has arrived a bit early. Officially, the Atlantic (and Gulf of Mexico) hurricane season doesn't start each year until June 1. But the weather gods operate on their own schedules, so we often get early forming storms. That's the current situation. A tropical system has developed off the eastern coast of Yucatan, Mexico, and is expected to move north, ruining the Memorial Day weekend for thousands of Gulf Coast residents and vacationers. Depending... Read more →


Lava slowly flows from a fissure that opened on a Leilani Estates street on May 5, 2018, after Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted. (United States Geological Survey public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons) The United States' 50th state is home to many extraordinary things. Exotic flowers. Magical beaches. Unique birds. An active volcano. It's that last thing that's got folks worried right now. Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday, May 3, accompanied by dozens of earthquakes, the release of dangerous sulfur dioxide and lava flows. The 6.9 magnitude Kilauea-associated earthquake that shook the Big Island on May 4 was the most powerful... Read more →


Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr CC We got a little bit of rain last night as a cool front moved through Central Texas. Other parts of my native state, however, were pummeled by large hail. It's not the first damaging weather to hit Texas this spring and it definitely won't be the last, as the annual storm season begins to ramp up in the next few weeks. Starting this weekend, however, Lone Star State residents get some tax help in getting ready for whatever Mother Nature may throw out way. Certain storm preparation supplies will be tax free as the... Read more →


@bublywater via Giphy.com If you missed this year's doubly extended tax filing deadline simply because you procrastinated, or actually over-procrastinated, then you're out of luck. If you owe tax for the 2017 tax year, interest and penalties already are piling up. If this is you — no judging here, just some advice — at least get a belated extension request into the Internal Revenue Service ASAP, along with the money you owe, to stop that costly process from getting worse. The first Weekly Tax Tip of 2018 offers some guidance on moves to make if your missed the Tax Day... Read more →


Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose (left to right) lined up last September, each possibly headed for landfall. (National Hurricane Center radar image) A key forecast group expects the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season to be even more active than normal. That is not what people who endured Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma last year and are, in some areas, still struggling to recover, wanted to hear. Dr. Phil Klotzbach and his team at Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project are forecasting 14 named tropical storms this hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Mother Nature and her... Read more →


iLEAD students hold up their Backpacks Full of Hope that they took to Puerto Rico on their spring break to help with recovery efforts on the island. (Photo courtesy iLEAD) Hundreds of students, and in some cases their families, recently took advantage of spring break to head to sunnier climes. However, a couple of the usual beach destinations, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are still struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The good news is that some of the mainland spring breakers did or still are using their time off to participate in storm recovery efforts in... Read more →


Here in Central Texas, many of us have been complaining (guilty!) about the dreary patch of weather that's settled over the area. Yes, we can be whiny, especially when you look at really severe conditions elsewhere in the United States. Some Alabamans also are thinking about weather this weekend, but in a forward looking way. The Yellowhammer State's severe weather preparedness sales tax holiday kicked off yesterday, Friday, Feb. 23, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 25. During this time, Alabama's 4 percent state sales tax is waived on eligible purchases. Many cities and counties also have chosen to participate in... Read more →


Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren might benefit by claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The IRS has additional information for these taxpayers and other special groups and situations where the EITC could help. Friday, Jan. 26, was EITC Awareness Day, the 12th annual event during with the Internal Revenue Service makes a special effort to get the word out about this tax break that millions of filers ignore each year. Actually, the tax agency made special efforts, plural, yesterday. There were more than 250 total outreach events and activities around the country to promote the Earned Income Tax... Read more →


We did it! We made it through the wild ride that was 2017. It ended in a particularly chaotic fashion, with a major tax bill that was literally written on the fly even on its last day of Congressional consideration. via Giphy.com Studios Now it's time to hunker down for what 2018 has to throw at us on the tax front. However, before we dive head-first into the new year, I'm taking one of the 365 days, just like I did at the start of 2017, to list my top 10 tax stories from the previous year. These are not... Read more →


A driver pulled over in La Conchita, California, the evening of Dec. 6 to save a rabbit he spotted scurrying amid flames from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. Click image to watch full video posted on YouTube by RMG News/Reuters/NJ.com. California is on fire. Literally. Again. Just two months after the northern part of the Golden State was ablaze, deadly wildfires are raging across Southern California. And while residents right now are simply trying to stay safe and, if possible, save as much of their personal possessions as they can, in a few weeks or months, they'll be trying... Read more →


Nov. 18 is the last day this year that the Internal Revenue Service will accept electronically filed tax returns. Wait, you say. Didn't the final deadline for sending in 2016 returns come and go on Oct. 16? You are correct, tax savvy calendar watchers. But folks who were granted an extension to file until Jan. 31, 2018, might be able to take advantage of the extended e-file option. Disaster-related added time: The Jan. 31 deadline applies to millions of taxpayers who live in what this year was declared a federal disaster area and who got a six-month extension to file... Read more →


Hurricane Irma recovery work continues in Marathon Key, Florida, on Oct. 30 where storm debris is burned. Louisiana and South Carolina also were hit hard by this season's deadly hurricanes and some residents in those states are now getting tax relief, too. (Photo by Bill Koplitz/FEMA) The worst of the 2017 hurricane system began its assault on the United States on Aug. 25 when Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast as a category 4 storm. In rapid succession, the United States and it Caribbean territories also were pummeled in September by category 4 Hurricanes Irma and Maria.... Read more →


Where the heck has 2017 gone? The countdown clock over in the ol' blog's right column is steadily ticking away the time left until Dec. 31, the deadline for most moves that could affect this year's taxes. The Internal Revenue Service, however, has its eyes on November, which is just little more than a week away. The start of that 11th month effectively is the cutoff date for the federal tax agency to get ready for the next year's filing season. If the IRS can't get some certainty as to how to update forms, instructions and operational processes, the start... Read more →


Aerial view on Oct. 9 of a damaged home in the mountainous area of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria, many homes, businesses, roads and bridges suffered major damages due to strong winds and heavy rain. (Photo by Andrea Booher, FEMA) To borrow from James Taylor's plaintive classic, the Internal Revenue Service has seen fire and rain and is making tax accommodations for Americans having to deal with those disastrous aftermaths. Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, pummeling the U.S. territory with category 5 force. Three weeks later, many of the island's 3.4 million residents are... Read more →


If compassion fatigue hadn't set in after the back-to-back-to-back hurricanes that roared across the Atlantic, laying waste to much of Texas, Florida, Georgia and many Caribbean islands, it probably did when Mexico got rocked within two weeks by two massive and deadly earthquakes. A group of American tourists were literally rocked when their Sept. 19 Mexico boat ride was interrupted by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Click image to watch full YouTube video. Many of the small tropical islands were particularly hard hit by Hurricanes Irma and then Maria. Both were major hurricanes. Both covered wide areas. The mass of the... Read more →


Hurricane Irma got most attention when she threatened and eventually made landfall in Florida. Her destructive effects, however, were felt beyond the Sunshine State. History of Hurricane #Irma: 1 September 2017 - 10 September 2017 #GOES16 pic.twitter.com/Z53paEmpIY — NASA SPoRT (@NASA_SPoRT) September 11, 2017 That's why today the Internal Revenue Service announced that all of Georgia, which took its own hard hits as Irma moved across the Georgia-Florida border, is now eligible for disaster tax relief. This latest hurricane related tax relief parallels that previously granted to Irma victims throughout Florida and in parts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin... Read more →


UPDATE, Sep. 19: Hurricane Maria is heading for Puerto Rico today as, says the island's governor, the "potentially most catastrophic hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in a century." UPDATE, Sept. 18: The National Hurricane Center has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the MidAtlantic and New England Coasts. Specifically, effects of Hurricane Jose are expected to be felt in Fenwick Island to Sandy Hook, Delaware Bay South, East Rockaway Inlet to Plymouth, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Weather officials also warn that rip currents are a danger along the entire U.S. east coast. Meanwhile, Hurricane Maria is following Irma's... Read more →


Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, left, accepts a truckload of help from his New York colleague Rep. Tom Suozzi to help Hurricane Harvey victims. Now Brady wants to offer more help via special tax relief for retirement account withdrawals. (Photo from Rep. Brady via Facebook) Here's a clear indication that tax reform isn't going to be as easy as many hope. Talk of tax reform has focused variously on tax rate cuts, deduction reductions and overall simplification of the Internal Revenue Code. Rep. Kevin Brady, the Texas Republican in charge of the House tax-writing committee, is himself considering adding a new... Read more →


Aside from the damage that hurricanes cause, one of the biggest problems is that they often, especially in September, effectively come back to back. Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose (left to right) lined up earlier in September. (National Hurricane Center radar image) That's what happened with Hurricane Irma. The angry sister of Hurricane Harvey walloped all of Florida three weeks after coastal Texas was gut-punched by Harvey's historic flooding. The back-to-back U.S. landfalls was a first for Category 4 storms. The only good news here, at least tax-wise, is that the Internal Revenue Service has a Harvey template for Irma... Read more →