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Tax News
Tax Relief for Southern California Fire Victims

Here is our annual summary of tax-related legislation enacted this session.

FTB gives special tax, payment, and filing relief to people and businesses affected by the wildfires in Southern California (FTB announcements - November 19 and November 20, 2008).

Taxpayers affected by the wildfires occurring in the Presidentially declared disaster areas are able to claim disaster losses in the current or prior tax year. Claiming the loss on a 2007 tax return filed earlier this year will allow FTB to quickly issue a refund to the affected taxpayer.

California will match the postponement period announced by the IRS. FTB gives this automatic postponement, to February 11, 2009, without added penalties or interest to affected taxpayers who have tax returns, payments, or other time-sensitive acts otherwise due between November 13, 2008 and February 11, 2009.

The following counties were Presidentially declared disaster areas: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and Santa Barbara. Specifically included were the Tea Fire in Santa Barbara County, the Sayre fire in Los Angeles County, and Triangle Complex (formerly named Freeway Complex) fire in the Orange and Riverside Counties.

Taxpayers claiming the disaster loss should write “Southern California Wildfires 2008” in red ink at the top of their tax return to alert FTB to expedite the refund. If taxpayers are e-filing, they should follow the software instructions to enter the disaster information. Taxpayers can get FTB’s amended 2007 tax return or original 2007 tax return at FTB’s website, ftb.ca.gov.

FTB can also help disaster victims replace state returns lost or damaged by the fires free of charge. Complete Form FTB 3516, Request for Copy of Tax Return, at ftb.ca.gov and print “Southern California Wildfires 2008” in red ink at the top of the request.

To learn more about disaster losses, refer to publications FTB 1034 Disaster Loss at ftb.ca.gov or the IRS 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts at irs.gov.

Taxpayers who have questions about their accounts can call FTB toll-free at 800.852.5711, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Board of Equalization has also granted relief to affected taxpayers. Please refer to their news releases at boe.ca.gov.