Protect tax records and financial documents during hurricane season

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Revenue encourages taxpayers to protect their tax records and other financial documents from flood damage and other weather-related threats during hurricane season.

“A little preparation goes a long way,” Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said. “A few common-sense precautions can make the recovery process easier in the aftermath of an emergency.”

Keep documents secure

Paper records are especially vulnerable to water damage. Protect these documents by placing them in airtight plastic containers or zip closure bags, and moving them out of harm’s way.

Use paperless media

Bank statements and other financial documents are available as electronic records from your financial institution. Preserve these records by saving them to portable memory drives or burning them to CDs. Store them in airtight containers.

Scan important records such as such as tax returns, W-2s and payroll records into an electronic format. Many commercially available home printers include scanning features.

Web-based email services such as Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Hotmail offer account holders free online data storage. You can upload electronic records from your home computer and retrieve them later from any device with Internet access. This can be helpful if you are evacuated from your home.

Document valuables and business equipment

Compile a room-by-room list of your belongings or business equipment. Photograph or videotape the contents of your home or business, especially items of high value. Having a visual record of your valuables can provide proof for an insurance claim. It can also help to verify a loss claim on state and federal tax returns.

In case of a disaster, the Department of Revenue can provide information on potential tax deductions or credits, filing extensions, and other tax-related information. Bookmark www.revenue.louisiana.gov.

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Louisiana sales tax holiday encourages residents to prepare for hurricane season

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana residents can stock up on flashlights, batteries, generators, and other storm-related items free of the 4 percent state sales tax during the 2012 Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday on Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27.  The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1.

“This is the perfect opportunity to begin the preparations that can help to keep your loved ones and property safe, secure and comfortable during hurricane season,” Secretary of Revenue Cynthia Bridges said.  “I encourage everyone to get ready now.  Don’t wait until there’s a storm bearing down on us or, worse, after one has already struck.”

The sales tax holiday exempts the first $1500 of the purchase price of each of the following eligible items:

  • Self-powered light sources, such as flashlights and candles
  • Portable self-powered radios, two-way radios, and weather-band radios
  • Tarpaulins or other flexible waterproof sheeting
  • Ground anchor systems, straps or tie-down kits
  • Gas or diesel fuel tanks
  • Batteries, sizes AAA, AA, C, D, 6-volt, or 9-volt (Automobile batteries and boat batteries are ineligible)
  • Cellular phone batteries and chargers
  • Non-electric food storage coolers
  • Portable generators
  • Storm shutter devices (Materials and products manufactured, rated, and marketed specifically for the purposes of preventing window damage from storms)
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • “Blue Ice” (and similar re-usable cooling products)

The 2012 Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday exempts eligible purchases from the 4 percent state sales tax only.  Local sales taxes apply unless specifically exempted by the local taxing jurisdiction.

Visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/hurricaneprep for a full explanation of sales tax holiday provisions.

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LDR News Release – Protect tax records and financial documents during emergencies

BATON ROUGE – Protect tax records and financial documents from storms, floods, and other emergencies, the Louisiana Department of Revenue advises taxpayers.

 The 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season began on June 1.  The National Weather Service says there is a 65 percent chance of an above-normal season.  Early preparation is the key to making sure your family, property, and important personal records remain safe.

 Keep Documents Secure

 Water damage poses a particular threat to paper records.  In advance of a storm or flood, protect these documents by placing them in airtight containers and moving them out of harm’s way.

 Use Paperless Media

 Most bank statements and other financial documents are available as electronic records from your financial institution.  Preserve these data by burning them to CDs or saving them to portable memory drives. 

 Scan important paper records such as W-2s, payroll records, and tax returns into an electronic format.  Many commercially available home printers include easy-to-use scanning features.

 In addition, some web-based e-mail services such as Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s Hotmail offer free online document storage.  You can upload your electronic records directly from your home computer and download them again from any machine with Internet access.

 Document Valuables and Business Equipment

 Compile a room-by-room list of your belongings or business equipment.  Photograph or videotape the contents of your home or business, especially items of high value.

 Having a visual record of your valuables can provide proof for an insurance claim.  It can also help to verify a loss claim on state and federal tax returns.

 In the event of a disaster, the Department of Revenue can provide information on potential tax deductions or credits, filing extensions, and other tax-related matters.  Bookmark www.revenue.louisiana.gov as the source for state tax-related information.

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LDR News Release: Hurricane prep supplies free from state sales tax May 28 & 29

BATON ROUGE – Save money while protecting your home and your family from hurricanes.

The 2011 Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday takes place Saturday, May 28, and Sunday, May 29.  During these two days, specified emergency supplies are exempt from the 4 percent state sales tax.

 “This is a good opportunity to stock up on the basic items families need in the event of a strong storm,” Governor Bobby Jindal said.  “The fact is when storms or other emergencies impact our state, power is down, streets are covered with debris and sometimes high waters prevent folks from going to the store and getting what they need. This tax holiday doesn’t just make financial sense, it’s about reminding folks to Get-a-Gameplan, get prepared, and take steps now to protect their family in the event of a storm.”

 The sales tax exemption applies to the first $1,500 of the purchase price of each of the following items:

  • Self-powered light sources, such as flashlights and candles
  • Portable self-powered radios, two-way radios, and weather-band radios
  • Tarpaulins or other flexible waterproof sheeting
  • Ground anchor systems, straps or tie-down kits
  • Gas or diesel fuel tanks
  • Batteries, sizes AAA, AA, C, D, 6-volt, or 9-volt (Automobile batteries and boat batteries are ineligible)
  • Cellular phone batteries and chargers
  • Non-electric food storage coolers
  • Portable generators
  • Storm shutter devices (Materials and products manufactured, rated, and marketed specifically for the purposes of preventing window damage from storms)
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • “Blue Ice” (and similar re-usable cooling products)

The 2011 Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday does not apply to items or supplies purchased at airports, public lodging establishments, hotels, convenience stores, or entertainment complexes.

For more information, visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/hurricaneprep.

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LDR Video – 2010 Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

The 2010 Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday takes place on Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30. During these two days, shoppers can get ready for the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which begins on June 1, by purchasing emergency supplies free from the four-percent state sales tax.

Learn more at revenue.louisiana.gov.

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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.

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Protect financial, tax records during hurricane season

With the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season underway, the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) urges individual and businesses taxpayers to protect financial and tax records in advance of storms and other potential disasters.

Some tips on protecting personal or business information:

Take Advantage of Paperless Media for Financial and Tax Records

Many people receive bank statements and other financial documents by e-mail. Even though most of these records are also retained by banks and corporations, you can back your records up easily and at little cost with CDs and portable memory drives.

“It’s also a good idea to scan important tax records such as W-2s and other pay information, tax returns, and other paper documents into an electronic format,” says Secretary of Revenue Cynthia Bridges.

Document Valuables and Business Equipment

Compile a room-by-room list of your belongings or business equipment. This will help you verify the market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims. Photograph or videotape the contents of your home or business, especially items of high value.

“Having a record of your valuables can provide proof for an insurance claim. It will also help you remember what you might be able to claim as a loss on state and federal taxes,” Bridges says.

You should store photos or videos on CDs, DVDs, or portable memory drives in a safe location away from the area at risk. 

Count on the Louisiana Department of Revenue

In the event of a disaster – and well after – the Louisiana Department of Revenue stands ready to help. LDR will provide valuable information on approved tax credits, business assistance, calculating losses, etc. Check LDR’s website at www.revenue.louisiana.gov  for news about disaster-related tax matters. As a top priority after a disaster, LDR will update forms and offer explanations of loss-relief programs.

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Get ready now for hurricane season

Ready.gov – The U.S. Government’s hurricane-preparedness website.

Get a Game Plan.org – The State of Louisiana’s hurricane-preparedness website.

Emergency.Louisiana.gov – Where to go during a declared emergency for the latest information.

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IRS: 'Adjustments for Hurricane Grants Must Be Made by July 30th '

The Internal Revenue Service is reminding eligible homeowners who received federal reimbursement grants stemming from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita or Wilma that there is still time to take advantage of last year’s tax law change. Eligible homeowners have until July 30th to take advantage of a new law that allows homeowners to adjust previously claimed casualty loss deductions they suffered on their main home from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita or Wilma.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act, enacted in 2008, included the new provision, aimed at helping grant recipients who previously claimed hurricane-related disaster-loss deductions. “Notice 2008-95 provides specific guidelines to homeowners who received these grants, including the Louisiana Road Home Grants and the Mississippi Development Authority Hurricane Katrina Homeowner Grants,” said IRS Spokesperson Dee Harris.

The notice explains how eligible taxpayers can amend prior-year returns to reduce the casualty loss deduction by the amount of the grant. Taxpayers have one year to pay back any resulting tax due, penalty-free and interest-free. To qualify for this relief, these amended returns must be filed by July 30, 2009, and the entire resulting tax due must be paid by July 30, 2010, in most cases.

Before this change, homeowners who claimed casualty loss deductions and received grants in a later tax year as reimbursement for the loss were required by law to pay tax on part or all of the grant to compensate for the tax benefit of the prior deduction. While individual circumstances varied, this meant that some taxpayers ended up paying more tax on the grant than they saved by claiming the deduction.

The IRS cautions that, although filing an amended return may be a good option for many, it would not necessarily be the right choice for everyone. “Affected taxpayers and their representatives should consider carefully which option is best under their particular circumstances,” advised Harris.

For more information and additional guidance, read Notice 2008-95.

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2009 Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is May 30, 31

The 2009 Louisiana Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday will take place on Saturday, May 30, and Sunday, May 31. On these two days, shoppers can purchase specified emergency supplies free of the four-percent state sales tax in preparation for the 2009 hurricane season, which begins on June 1. Act 429 of the 2007 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature enacted R.S. 47:305.58 to provide for an annual state sales tax holiday on sales of hurricane-preparedness items or supplies made on the last Saturday and Sunday of each May.

 During the two-day holiday, tax-free purchases are allowed for the first $1,500 of the sales price of each of the following items:

  • Self-powered light sources, such as flashlights and candles;
  • Portable self-powered radios, two-way radios, and weather-band radios;
  • Tarpaulins or other flexible waterproof sheeting;
  • Ground anchor systems or tie-down kits;
  • Gas or diesel fuel tanks;
  • Batteries – AAA, AA, C, D, 6-volt, or 9-volt (automobile batteries and boat batteries are not eligible);
  • Cellular phone batteries and chargers;
  • Non-electric food storage coolers;
  • Portable generators;
  • Storm shutter devices – Materials and products manufactured, rated, and marketed specifically for the purposes of preventing window damage from storms (La. R.S. 47:305.58).
  • Carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Blue ice products.

 Conditions for Exemption

 The following activities will be eligible during the two days of each annual holiday for the sales tax exemption:

  • buying and accepting delivery of eligible hurricane-preparedness items or supplies;
    placing eligible items or supplies on layaway;
  • making final payment on and withdrawing eligible items or supplies previously placed on layaway; or
  • ordering an eligible item for immediate delivery, even if delivery must be delayed, provided that the customer has not requested delayed shipment.
    Special Provisions

 The Act provides that:

  • The exemption is allowed on both inputs to and withdrawals from layaway.
  • Purchases of eligible items or supplies during the holiday with “rain checks” issued before the holiday are eligible for exemption, but purchases after the holiday with “rain checks” issued during the holiday are not eligible for exemption.
  • Orders for immediate shipment are eligible for exemption even if the shipment is after the holiday, provided that the customer does not request delayed shipment.
  • The post-holiday exchange of merchandise to effectuate changes in size, color, or correction of defects does not create a tax liability, but exchanges after the holiday for dissimilar items will be considered the purchase of new property on which the sales tax will be payable.
  • For a 60-day period after the holiday, dealers who issue refund or credit for the return of merchandise that was eligible for sales tax exemption during the holiday can issue refund or credit for the state sales tax on that returned merchandise only if the customers returning the property have receipts showing that the tax was actually paid on the original purchases, or the dealers are otherwise able to document that the state sales tax was paid on the original purchases.

The sales tax holiday will not extend to hurricane-preparedness items or supplies purchased at any airport, public lodging establishment or hotel, convenience store, or entertainment complex.

 Return Filing Procedures

Retailers should report exempt sales on Line 33 of the Sales Tax Return (R-1029) and write the words “Sales Tax Holiday” as the explanation.

 The Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is an annual event. The 2009 sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 30, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 31.

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