President George W. Bush has declared several areas in Northern California a Federal Disaster Area, following the devastating storms, flooding, and mudslides that occurred in several counties last December and in January 2006. Stricken residents and business owners in Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano and Sonoma counties are eligible for federal aid.
The assistance, coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), includes a variety of programs, from grants for temporary housing, home repairs, and other disaster-related expenses, to low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Association for residential and business losses not compensated by insurance.
Working with John W. Pointer, Area 11 Manager for the Internal Revenue Service, the California Society of Enrolled Agents (CSEA) has set up a list of volunteers to stand ready to assist Californians with their disaster recover needs with the various tax breaks.
Residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by registering online at www.fema.gov or calling (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or (800) 462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired.
Affected eligible taxpayers are eligible for a postponement of time to file returns, pay taxes, and perform other time-sensitive acts. That includes individuals who live, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster areas. Taxpayers not in those specific areas but whose books, records, or tax professionals’ offices are in the covered disaster area, are also entitled to relief. Affected taxpayers have until April 3, 2006, to file most tax returns or to make tax payments, including estimated tax payments that have either an original or extended due date falling from Dec. 17, 2005, through April 3, 2006. Other forms of relief are also applicable. An enrolled agent can provide advice and assistance in filing the necessary documents.
Enrolled agents are tax professionals licensed by the federal government to represent taxpayers and assist them with tax planning and the preparation of tax returns. To find an enrolled agent, visit www.csea.org or call (800) TAXPRO-5. Outside California, the Enrolled Agent referral number is (800) 424-4339.
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