12 On Your Side: Uncle Sam will let you claim ice storm damage on taxes

By: Jerome Collins Email
By: Jerome Collins Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Feb. 26, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) The ice storm that knocked out power for thousands, was a new experience for J.R. Stewart. "This is my first one. Like I said I lived in California and even the floods and earthquakes, I didn't, we didn't have this," said Stewart.

She is a senior advisor with H&R Block. She said some tax filers may be able to get disaster relief from the IRS if they incurred significant damage from the storm. "The first thing they want to do is make sure they contact their insurance company," said Stewart.

And depending on your deductible make a decision about whether to file a claim. If you elect not to report the damage to your insurance company you can file on your taxes as a casualty loss.

Stewart said you will need to complete IRS form 4684 for casualties and thefts. However, the IRS says natural wear and tear is not a casualty loss.

What does qualify is damage or destruction or loss of property as a result of a sudden, unexpected or unusual event like fires, burglaries, ice storms, blizzards, vandalism and even earthquakes. You are eligible to file a casualty loss with the IRS.

Even if your perishable food spoiled during the extensive power outages you may not want to file that kind of loss with your insurance company as it may not meet your deductible or even be worth it. However Stewart said you can report the loss on form 4684 as long as you have not been reimbursed by your insurance company.

"You can't deduct if your getting reimbursed for something," said Stewart. Also because the ice storm was a federally declared emergency and not a presidential declared federal disaster you can only file your casualty losses on next year's return, not this year's.

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