California disaster relief announced for victims of wildfires

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and the Employment Development Department (EDD) have announced that personal income tax and payroll tax relief will be available for taxpayers affected by wildfires in Amador, Calaveras, Lake, and Napa Counties. According to the FTB, affected taxpayers are automatically eligible for qualifying personal income tax disaster loss treatment under the terms of recently enacted legislation covering areas where the governor declares a state of emergency.

As a result, disaster victims can claim a loss in either the year the disaster occurred or the prior year. Disaster victims who have not yet filed a 2014 tax return can claim losses on their original returns, while victims who have already filed a 2014 tax return can claim losses against that year’s income by filing an amended return. Taxpayers should write “DISASTER – 2015 BUTTE AND VALLEY WILDFIRES” in red at the top of the return. In addition, the FTB noted that taxpayers can get copies of lost or damaged state income tax returns at no charge by completing FTB Form 3516 and writing “DISASTER – 2015 BUTTE AND VALLEY WILDFIRES” in red ink across the top of the form.

The FTB announcement can be found at https://www.ftb.ca.gov/aboutFTB/press/2015/18_09172015.shtml. In addition, the EDD announced that employers in Amador, Calaveras, Lake, and Napa Counties directly affected by the wildfires may request up to a 60-day extension of time to file state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. EDD staff will also be in designated local assistance centers to provide help to taxpayers affected by the wildfires. The EDD announcement can be found at http://www.edd.ca.gov/About_EDD/EDD_Assistance_for_Wildfire_Victims.htm. (California Franchise Tax Board News Release, September 17, 2015; News Release, California Employment Development Department, September 21, 2015.)

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