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Victims of Harvey have till Jan. 31 to file 2016 returns, assuming they previously got proper filing extensions.  This deadline also applies to estimated tax payments originally due on Sept. 15 and on Jan. 16, 2018, as well as to payroll tax filings and excise tax returns.

Employers can give tax-free assistance to employee victims of Harvey.  Firms can help employees pay for necessary personal, family, living or funeral costs, as well as home repair expenses, provided the amounts aren’t covered by insurance.  These qualified disaster payments aren’t taxable to a worker, and then employer can generally deduct them.  Alternatively, an employer-sponsored private foundation can give the money to company employees without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status.


Want to help people affected by Harvey, Irma, and other disasters?  Make sure to give to an IRS-recognized charity if you want a tax write-off.  (Go to www.kiplinger.com/letterlinks/selectcheck to take a look at eligible charities)  Watch out for bogus charities and solicitors.  IRS is warning taxpayers to be alert to scammers who claim to solicit funds for victims of natural disasters.  Keep receipts of your donations  If you are age 70 and a half or older, consider making the donations from your IRA.  You can transfer up to $100,000 annually from your traditional IRA directly to charity.  The charitable transfers count as all or part of your require minimum distribution, but unlike other IRA payouts, these direct fits are not added to your taxable income.  A reminder that donations you make to individuals aren’t tax-deductible.  Ditto generally for gifts made through personal fund-raising websites that are earmarked for one person or a small group, like a family who lost their home.  But you can deduct first to 501(c)(3) groups that solicit donations on fund-raising sites.

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