EDITORIAL: 'Tax day for storm victims'

This Times-Picayune editorial reminds Gulf Coast residents of today’s federal filing deadline Katrina & Rita rebuilding grants.

Gulf Coast residents who need to amend their 2005 tax returns to avoid paying income taxes on rebuilding grants had better hurry. The deadline to amend the 2005 filing is today.

Tens of thousands of people lowered their tax bills after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita by claiming a casualty loss from the storms. But many subsequently found themselves in a higher-than-expected tax bracket when the federal government decided to tax as income the rebuilding grants from programs like Louisiana’s Road Home.

Visit IRS.gov for more information about the hurricane grant guidelines.

To qualify for this relief, these amended returns must be filed by July 30, 2009, and the entire resulting tax due paid by July 30, 2010, in most cases. The notice also provides special instructions for those taxpayers who have already filed an amended return.

Taxpayers should write the words, “Hurricane Grant Relief” in dark, bold letters at the top of their amended return, Form 1040X, and mail it to: Internal Revenue Service Center, Austin, TX 73301-0255. Amended returns cannot be filed electronically.