Arkansas Storm Victims Get More Time to File Their Taxes

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What happened

The IRS has announced that victims of a wave of destructive storms now have until July 31, 2023 to complete their 2022 tax returns and make any payments owed from the previous tax year. Tax returns are due this year by April 18, and failing to file and pay on time can result in penalties. However, those impacted by recent weather events will get additional time to complete and pay their taxes without being considered late.

So what

On April 1, a series of violent, tornado-spurring storms hit the Midwest. The storms resulted in multiple deaths, and Arkansas was among the hardest-hit.

At least 50 people were sent to hospitals in Arkansas’ Pulaski County, where a tornado hit the Little Rock area on Friday. Mayor Frank Scott Jr. told CNN that close to 2,600 structures sustained damage. This means many Arkansas residents may be facing property damage -- and may be sitting on piles of destroyed tax documents needed to file their 2022 returns.

“Many people were not at their homes (at the time of the storms)," he explained. "If they were, it would have been a massacre."

Now what

The IRS does not impose penalties for being late with a tax return when a tax refund is due. In that case, all that happens is that filers have to wait longer for their money to hit their bank accounts. But when filers owe money to the IRS and are late with their returns, the penalties can be huge.

The IRS imposes a 5% penalty per month or partial month if a tax return is late in that scenario, up to a total of 25%. For those owing large amounts, those penalties can quickly add up. As such, the fact that the IRS is giving Arkansas residents more time to file their taxes is key, as it could be sparing many people the expense of a penalty at a time when they're already dealing with property damage.

What’s more, the IRS imposes a 0.5% penalty per month or partial month tax payments are late beyond the filing deadline, up to 25%. This penalty, too, is waived for Arkansas residents impacted by the recent storm.

Thankfully, this isn't the first time the IRS has extended such relief to storm victims. Just last week, it pushed back the tax-filing and payment deadline to July 31 for victims of storms in Mississippi that occurred on March 24 and 25.

If you've been impacted by a storm or natural disaster, it could pay to reach out to the IRS and see if it's possible to get more time to file your tax return and make your tax payment. Any filer who needs more time to complete a tax return can request an automatic six-month extension, but that doesn't allow for more time to pay. However, the agency has historically worked with storm victims to help them avoid penalties on the filing and payment front.

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