The flooding in Lancaster County has inconsistently affected residents and businesses. Some residents have come away from the flood with absolutely no water at all in their basements and others have seen major damage from the flooding. My own neighborhood effectively turned into an island and getting home seemed impossible without a row boat. On September 13, 2011, Lancaster County was declared a Federal Disaster Area. This declaration can have significant impact, not only for those trying to get the water out of their basement or who have been severely affected by the flooding, but also for those who had tax deadlines this week.
Lancaster County’s Website has some very helpful links and information for those who were affected by the recent flooding. On their website you can apply for federal assistance through FEMA, and other federal and state agencies, including unemployment assistance for individuals who find themselves unemployed due to the effects of Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee.
For other individuals and businesses in Lancaster County and surrounding counties including Adams, Bradford, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, Wyoming, and York counties, the declaration making these areas a Federal Disaster Area has extended some important tax deadlines until October 31, 2011, even if you were not directly affected by the flooding. This extension includes corporations and other businesses that previously obtained an extension until September 15 to file their 2010 returns, and individuals and businesses that received a similar extension until October 17. It also includes the estimated tax payment for the third quarter, normally due September 15. You can go to the IRS website for more comprehensive information about the tax extension.
The Federal Disaster Area determination will also allow taxpayers in the affected areas to claim disaster-related casualty losses on their federal tax returns for either this tax year or last year.
Please also remember that if you take advantage of the deadline extension, you may still receive a penalty notice from the IRS; you will need to contact the IRS using the number provided on the notice. You may need to confirm with the IRS that you are in an affected area and are entitled to the extension without penalty.
The PA Department of Revenue is providing a similar extension for the affected counties. Their website lists additional details regarding the special extension for affected PA taxpayers.
Countless Lancaster County residents were affected by these two storms. Regardless of the degree with which the storms may have impacted your home or business, be aware that you may be eligible for some benefits or assistance due to the Federal Disaster declaration.