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Weather disasters declared in New England

Yesterday the thermometers here in Central Texas climbed to almost 80 degrees. All around our neighborhood, grills were fired up and fine Texas beef was served for dinner.

Today, as you can see from the Weather Channel map below, it's been at or below freezing since mid-morning, with a splash of wintry precipitation thrown in for good measure. My WeatherBug icon has been chirping all day with one alert or update after another.

121508 Weather Channel temp map

Tomorrow? The weather men and women (and online services) predict we'll hit the mid-40s, which will seem like springtime. By Thursday and Friday, we should be in the mid-70s, with overnight temps falling just into the upper 50s.

So despite today's cold blast, I can't complain. We're nowhere near as uncomfortable as some northeastern residents.

While the temperature map shows that part of the country as "basking" in 50-degree temps late this afternoon, those folks are recovering from a massive ice storm that whacked New England late last week. Its aftermath meant that almost 650,000 homes and businesses started this week without power.

Presidential disaster tax considerations: Today, the White House declared all of New Hampshire and nine counties in Massachusetts as major disaster areas. That means that FEMA aid is now available. It also means some tax benefits.

I've blogged what seems like a gazilion times about this tax "advantage," if you can call anything that depends on your property and emotional state being severely battered a good thing. Just click here to the many, many disaster-related posts.

If you don't have time to peruse all those posts right now, the main thing to keep in mind is that when an area is designated a major disaster area by the president, special tax rules apply. The key one is that you get a choice of which tax year in which to claim your disaster losses. And, depending upon your filing circumstances, could get you more money, sooner from the IRS.

Generally, casualty losses are deductible in the year they occurred. But if the loss is in a presidentially declared disaster area, you can opt to claim the loss on your previous year's tax return. So some New England filers might want to file amended 2007 returns rather than wait a few more weeks to report the casualty loss on their 2008 Form 1040s.

Since many New Englanders who might find this info useful can't read it because they don't have electricity to fire up their Internet connection, if you have friends or family in that area, let them know they have this option. And tell them they can find more on the process in this story.

Other tax info related to disasters can be found in these IRS publications and Web pages:

FEMA keeps a list of disaster areas and assistance information here. And the IRS keeps a running list of major disasters at this Web page.


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Thanks for this. NH has had three separate disasters.

In 2006 there were floods, 2007 unusual rains, and then in 2008 a tornado. My house suffered $20K damage and my insurance, who I have been with for 45 years, would not pay a cent to help me out.

They said it was because the house did not collapse.

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