Hurricane victims in US getting IRS tax filing relief

Hurricane victims in US getting IRS tax filing relief

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Panama City, Oct 13 (AP/UNB) — The Internal Revenue Service says victims of Hurricane Michael will get a grace period before having to file some tax returns and payments.
The IRS said Friday it’s offering the relief in parts of Florida and other regions that may be added later to the disaster area as designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.Individuals who had a valid extension to Oct. 15 for filing their 2017 return now will have until Feb. 28, 2019, to file. Because tax payments related to the 2017 returns were due on April 18, however, those payments don’t qualify for relief.
The new Feb. 28 deadline also applies to quarterly estimated income-tax payments normally due on Jan. 15, 2019, and to quarterly payroll and excise tax returns due on Oct. 31, 2018, and Jan. 31, 2019. The IRS says it will automatically provide relief for people with addresses in the counties designated a disaster area.
Taxpayers who qualify for relief but live outside the disaster area can call the IRS at 866-562-5227.
Florida emergency officials say they have rescued nearly 200 people and checked 25,000 structures since Hurricane Michael battered the state this week.
In a briefing at the state emergency operations centre in Tallahassee on Friday evening, authorities said they had wrapped up their initial rapid searches and had begun more-intense searches including inspecting collapsed buildings.
The officials say they’ve completed 40 percent of these “secondary” searches and hope to finish up during daylight hours on Saturday.
Police in Virginia have identified another person who died after Tropical Storm Michael blew through the state on its way out to sea.
Danville police said in a statement on Friday that 60-year-old Jennifer Bjarnesen Mitchell of Danville died Thursday evening. Police said floodwaters had stranded and then overcome her vehicle.
She was the second person to die in Danville during the flooding. Police say that earlier that day, 53-year-old William Lynn Tanksley died after being swept away from his vehicle.
Virginia State Police said Friday that there have been five deaths in the state connected to Michael. They include a firefighter who was struck and killed by a truck outside Richmond.
After moving offshore in recent weeks, a toxic algae bloom has returned to the beaches of the Tampa area, blown in from Hurricane Michael.
Measurements posted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on its red tide website showed high concentrations off some Pinellas County, Florida, beaches on Thursday.
Residents were hoping the hurricane would have the opposite effect and blow it farther offshore.
Red tide in the Gulf of Mexico off southwest Florida began last October after Hurricane Irma ravaged the state.
It has killed massive amounts of marine life and caused respiratory irritations in people. The bloom has spread to Florida’s Panhandle and the Miami area.
An official leading search-and-rescue effort in one of the Florida communities hit hardest by Hurricane Michael says searchers have found at least one body.
Joseph Zahralban is Miami’s fire chief. On Friday, he was in Mexico Beach on the Gulf Coast acting as a task force leader for a search-and-rescue unit. He told The Associated Press that searchers found the storm victim among the devastation in Mexico Beach and surrounding Bay County.
He said he was trying to determine if the deceased individual was alone or part of a family.
Zahralban says teams on their first sweep of Mexico Beach on Thursday rescued some people with minor injuries and helped others who rode out the storm and found themselves with no way to leave.
The death toll across the South from Hurricane Michael stood at 13, not counting any victims in Mexico Beach.
This item has been updated and clarified to show that only one body had been found.
Oil and gas workers are returning to drilling rigs and production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, but oil production remains down by about one-third as operations are restarted.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a report Friday that 32.4 percent of oil production and a little more than 13 percent of natural gas production in the Gulf remained shut down. The agency bases its estimates on daily reports from operators.
The bureau says workers remained evacuated from only nine of the 687 staffed platforms in the Gulf, and that all unmoored rigs that were moved as the storm approached have returned to their drilling spots.
The Walt Disney Co. is donating $1 million for relief efforts to areas devastated by Hurricane Michael.
The company said Friday in a news release that the money will be funnelled through the Florida Disaster Fund.
The news release also says contributions from employees to eligible relief groups will be matched dollar-for-dollar through a matching gifts program.
Disney has a 70,000-person workforce in Florida at its Walt Disney World theme park resort in the Orlando area.
President Donald Trump says he’ll visit Florida and Georgia early next week to assess damage from Hurricane Michael.
Trump announced his plans on Twitter on Friday but didn’t say what day he’ll visit the affected areas.
Trump also tweeted that “people have no idea how hard Hurricane Michael has hit the great state of Georgia.”
Michael struck the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane earlier this week. One of the hardest-hit spots in Florida is Mexico Beach, where entire blocks of homes have been destroyed. The storm then raced through Georgia, the Carolinas and on to Virginia.
Trump says the administration is “working very hard on every area and every state that was hit.”
He adds: “We are with you!”

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