Now that South Carolina has finished enduring the immediate threat of Hurricane Dorian, many SCACPA members are contacting the Association in search of news about possible state and federal tax deadline extensions. When SCACPA receives such alerts, we will immediately post that information to our blog and social media feeds. Our thoughts are with those who are dealing with Dorian’s aftermath.

Remember, SCACPA keeps you informed about emergency developments via our Disaster Readiness webpage at www.scacpa.org/disaster-readiness.

FEMA’s webpage for announcements relating to South Carolina Hurricane Dorian (EM-3421) can be found here. As of Sept. 9, 2019, no dollars have been approved for individual or public assistance.

The IRS’s “Help for Victims of Hurricane Dorian” page can be found here.

Because it seems that evacuation orders stemming from extreme weather has become an almost annual event, especially along the South Carolina coast, now is an ideal time to review SCACPA’s Tax Preparedness Steps in Advance of a Hurricane or Other Disaster.

Remember, news of state and federal tax deadline extensions come from the SC Department of Revenue and the IRS. The IRS can only decide to extend deadlines for filing returns after FEMA declarations are declared. The IRS’s “Disaster Relief Resource Center for Tax Professionals” can be found here.

SCACPA understands the degree of disruption that results from state emergency declarations and orders to evacuate an area that come from the governor. During these periods, SCACPA urges you to follow preparation instructions, because safety always comes first.

An Evacuation Order from the S.C. Governor Does Not Automatically Result in a Deadline Extension

After a county is declared eligible to apply for FEMA’s Individual Assistance for aid, the IRS can decide to extend deadlines for filing returns, paying taxes and performing other time-sensitive acts for affected taxpayers.  FEMA can amend its disaster declaration for hurricane damage at the request of the governor.

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. This can include taxpayers who had a valid extension to file a return due to run out during that time frame. It can also include deadlines for quarterly estimated income tax payments and quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due. There are also circumstances where penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits can be abated.

Late Filing and Late Payment Penalty Notices

If an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date that falls within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate the penalty.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866.562.5227 to request this tax relief.

In past disasters, the South Carolina Department of Revenue has worked on a case-by-case basis to waive any penalties assessed for taxpayers who could not meet state filing or payment requirements because of natural disasters.

Also, residents in affected areas can be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance through the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. If your job has been affected by a hurricane, go to dew.sc.gov and click the MyBenefits Login in the top right corner to apply through the unemployment insurance benefits system. There is a 30-day window to apply based on when help was declared for that county. For help, call 866.831.1724.

Survivors who sustained losses in designated counties can apply for Federal assistance by registering at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800.621.3362 (or 800.621.FEMA). Assistance can include money for temporary rental assistance and essential home repairs for primary homes, low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help survivors recover from the effects of the disaster.

SCACPA Advocacy for Adjustments to Disaster Relief Provisions

The Association believes that at the top of the profession’s list of issues are changing the trigger that allows the IRS to grant deadline extensions when natural disasters occur.

Congress can help taxpayers by enacting legislation that would give the IRS the authority to postpone deadlines when a natural disaster is declared by a state’s governor, which often occurs days before the disaster occurs, rather than waiting for a federal disaster declaration.

SCACPA and the AICPA have long worked for a set of permanent disaster relief tax provisions, but enactment of this new legislation would provide more timely assistance and certainty to tax preparers and taxpayers.

Thank you for directing your questions about disaster relief to SCACPA and our Advocacy team. We are always working to give you to accurate disaster relief news as quickly as possible to keep South Carolina individuals and businesses strong and resilient in times of need.