Red Cross volunteers provide meals for survivors of Hurricane Sandy in Stony Point, N.Y., Dec. 1, 2012. FEMA is working with various partners including federal, state local and tribal governments, voluntary faith-based and community-based organizations, along with the private sector, to assist residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy. (Chris Kleponis/FEMA)

 

Treasury and IRS Expand Availability of Housing
for Hurricane Sandy Victims

IR-2012-86, Nov. 4, 2012

WASHINGTON — As part of the administration’s continued support for states and local partners impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that they will waive low-income housing tax credit rules that prohibit owners of low-income housing from providing housing to victims of Hurricane Sandy who do not qualify as low-income. The action will expand the availability of housing for disaster victims and their families.

Because of the widespread devastation to housing caused by Hurricane Sandy, the Treasury Department and the IRS will temporarily suspend income limitation requirements and non-transient requirements for qualified low-income housing projects that provide housing to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

The President has declared that major disasters exist in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, making federal funding available to affected individuals in designated counties through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. FEMA has also approved Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) in New York and New Jersey for eligible disaster survivors who have a continuing need for shelter because they are unable to return to their homes for an extended period of time. Individuals and business owners who sustained losses can apply for assistance from FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) via mobile device at m.fema.gov, or online at www.disasterassistance.gov.

 

 

 


Tax Relief for Victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York


NY-2012-47, Nov. 7, 2012

NEW YORK — Victims of Hurricane Sandy that began on Oct. 27, 2012 in parts of New York may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service.

The President has declared Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester counties a federal disaster area. Individuals who reside or have a business in these counties may qualify for tax relief.
The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Oct. 27, and on or before Feb. 1, have been postponed to Feb. 1, 2013.
In addition, the IRS is waiving the failure-to-deposit penalties for employment and excise tax deposits due on or after Oct. 27, and on or before Nov. 26, as long as the deposits are made by Nov. 26, 2012.

If an affected taxpayer receives a penalty notice from the IRS, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate any interest and any late filing or late payment penalties that would otherwise apply. Penalties or interest will be abated only for taxpayers who have an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date, including an extended filing or payment due date, that falls within the postponement period.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area need to call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.

For a full description of the relief being provided by the IRS to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, visit IRS.gov.

Covered Disaster Area

The counties above constitute a covered disaster area for purposes of Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(2) and are entitled to the relief detailed below.

Affected Taxpayers

Taxpayers considered to be affected taxpayers eligible for the postponement of time to file returns, pay taxes and perform other time-sensitive acts are those taxpayers listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(1), and include individuals who live, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster area. Taxpayers not in the covered disaster area, but whose records necessary to meet a deadline listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c) are in the covered disaster area, are also entitled to relief. In addition, all relief workers affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization assisting in the relief activities in the covered disaster area and any individual visiting the covered disaster area who was killed or injured as a result of the disaster are entitled to relief.

Grant of Relief

Under section 7508A, the IRS gives affected taxpayers until Feb. 1 to file most tax returns (including individual, corporate, and estate and trust income tax returns; partnership returns, S corporation returns, and trust returns; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax returns; and employment and certain excise tax returns), or to make tax payments, including estimated tax payments, that have either an original or extended due date occurring on or after Oct. 27 and on or before Feb. 1.

The IRS also gives affected taxpayers until Feb. 1 to perform other time-sensitive actions described in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c)(1) and Rev. Proc. 2007-56, 2007-34 I.R.B. 388 (Aug. 20, 2007), that are due to be performed on or after Oct. 27 and on or before Feb. 1.

This relief also includes the filing of Form 5500 series returns, in the manner described in section 8 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56. The relief described in section 17 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56, pertaining to like-kind exchanges of property, also applies to certain taxpayers who are not otherwise affected taxpayers and may include acts required to be performed before or after the period above.

The postponement of time to file and pay does not apply to information returns in the W-2, 1098, 1099 series, or to Forms 1042-S or 8027. Penalties for failure to timely file information returns can be waived under existing procedures for reasonable cause. Likewise, the postponement does not apply to employment and excise tax deposits. The IRS, however, will abate penalties for failure to make timely employment and excise tax deposits due on or after Oct. 27 and on or before Nov. 26 provided the taxpayer makes these deposits by Nov. 26.

Casualty Losses

Affected taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area have the option of claiming disaster-related casualty losses on their federal income tax return for either this year or last year. Claiming the loss on an original or amended return for last year will get the taxpayer an earlier refund, but waiting to claim the loss on this year’s return could result in a greater tax saving, depending on other income factors.

Individuals may deduct personal property losses that are not covered by insurance or other reimbursements. For details, see Form 4684 and its instructions.

Affected taxpayers claiming the disaster loss on last year’s return should put the Disaster Designation “New York/Hurricane Sandy” at the top of the form so that the IRS can expedite the processing of the refund.
Other Relief

The IRS will waive the usual fees and expedite requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for affected taxpayers. Taxpayers should put the assigned Disaster Designation in red ink at the top of Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, as appropriate, and submit it to the IRS.

Affected taxpayers who are contacted by the IRS on a collection or examination matter should explain how the disaster impacts them so that the IRS can provide appropriate consideration to their case.

Taxpayers may download forms and publications from the official IRS website, irs.gov, or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). The IRS toll-free number for general tax questions is 800-829-1040.

 

Treasury, IRS Announce Special Relief to Encourage Leave-Donation Programs for Victims of Hurricane Sandy

IR-2012-88, Nov. 6, 2012

WASHINGTON — As part of the administration’s efforts to bring all available resources to bear to support state and local partners impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced special relief intended to support leave-based donation programs to aid victims who have suffered from the extraordinary destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Under these programs, employees may donate their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for employer cash payments made to qualified tax-exempt organizations providing relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Employees can forgo leave in exchange for employer cash payments made before Jan. 1, 2014. Under this special relief, the donated leave will not be included in the income or wages of the employees. Employers will be permitted to deduct the amount of the cash payment. Details on this relief are in Notice 2012-69.

The IRS continues to monitor the situation and will provide additional relief related to Hurricane Sandy as needed

IRS Warns Consumers of Possible Scams Relating to Hurricane Sandy Relief
IR-2012-91, Nov. 9, 2012

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today issued a consumer alert about possible scams taking place in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Following major disasters, it’s common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitations.

The IRS cautions both hurricane victims and people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:

· To help disaster victims, donate to recognized charities.

· Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, which allows people to find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities may also be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site at fema.gov.

· Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists may use this information to steal your identity and money.

· Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.

· Call the IRS toll-free disaster assistance telephone number, 1-866-562-5227, if you are a hurricane victim with specific questions about tax relief or disaster related tax issues.

Scam artists can use a variety of tactics. Some scammers operating bogus charities may contact people by telephone to solicit money or financial information. They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds. They may attempt to get personal financial information or Social Security numbers that can be used to steal the victims’ identities or financial resources.

Bogus websites may solicit funds for disaster victims. Such fraudulent sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities, in order to persuade members of the public to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources. Additionally, scammers often send e-mail that steers the recipient to bogus websites that sound as though they are affiliated with legitimate charitable causes.

Taxpayers suspecting disaster-related frauds should IRS.gov and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.”

More information about tax scams and schemes may be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.”

IIABNY Warns Superstorm Sandy Victims Against Scam-Artist Contractors, Price Gougers Small number of non-local home improvement contractors may try to take advantage of local catastrophe

The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York today cautioned consumers in the areas affected by Superstorm Sandy to protect themselves against possible scams and price-gouging practices run by a few unscrupulous home improvement contractors.
“The overwhelming majority of home improvement contractors are good, honest businesspeople who do the job they promise and charge a fair price,” said IIABNY Chair of the Board Thomas J. Crowley. “Unfortunately, after events such as Sandy, there are always some contractors who are not from the local area and who try to take unfair advantage of people desperate to get their lives back on track.”
New York’s oldest insurance producer trade association advised consumers to be wary of contractors who:
·        Claim that they have been “approved” by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”). FEMA has no process for approving or disapproving contractors.
·        Insist that the homeowner pay for the work in cash and before the work begins. Municipalities and counties that require licensing of home improvement contractors typically do not permit licensed contractors to require this.
·        Do not itemize the price of construction materials in the work estimate. While some increase in the price of construction supplies is normal following a severe weather event due to increased demand, a licensed contractor must show the cost of supplies as separate items on the estimate so the consumer can evaluate the fairness of the charge.
IIABNY suggests that consumers take the following steps to ensure that they are doing business with reputable contractors:
·        Hire only contractors who have the appropriate licenses and who carry business liability and workers’ compensation insurance. Home improvement contractors operating in New York City and Putnam, Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties must be licensed, either by the county or by the town where the work is being done. Ask for a certificate of insurance, which identifies the contractor’s insurance company, shows the amount of insurance the contractor is carrying, and states when the policy is due to expire.
·        If possible, obtain estimates from at least two contractors. Contractors will be in high demand for some time after the storm, so it may be difficult to get multiple estimates, but IIABNY encourages consumers to comparison shop.
·        Give first preference to local contractors. They make their living in the area and need to maintain good reputations.
Residents can obtain information about licensed and unlicensed contractors from the following Web sites:
·        Among other sources, Web sites such as www.libi.org and www.nari.org.
·        New York City Department of Consumer Affairs http://www.nyc.gov/html/dca/html/licenses/license_check.shtml
·        Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/OCA/index.html
·        Putnam County Consumer Affairs, Home Improvement Board http://www.putnamcountyny.com/index.php/consumer-affairs/home-improvement-board/
·        Rockland County Consumer Protection/Weights & Measures http://rocklandgov.com/departments/consumer-protection-weights-and-measures/licensed-businesses/
·        Suffolk County Consumer Affairs, Licensing Bureau http://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/ConsumerAffairs/Bureaus/LicensingBureau.aspx 
·        Westchester County Consumer Department http://consumer.westchestergov.com/find-a-licensed-contractor
Unscrupulous contractors may try to engage in price-gouging, which New York law defines as selling goods or services for an unconscionably excessive price during an abnormal disruption of the market. IIABNY encourages all consumers to report apparent price-gouging to the office of the New York State Attorney General by calling 800-771-7755 or online at http://www.ag.ny.gov/hurricane-sandy-price-gouging-complaint-form.
IIABNY also reminds consumers who find that their insurance does not cover all of their financial losses that government assistance may be available. They can get more information and apply for assistance by visiting http://www.disasterassistance.gov.
The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York, Inc. has represented the common business interests of independent insurance professionals since 1882. More than 1,750 agencies and their 13,000 plus employees currently rely on the DeWitt, New York-based not-for-profit trade association for legislative advocacy, continuing education and other means of industry support. In addition, most IIABNY members proudly identify themselves as Trusted Choice® agents and brokers, a national consumer brand uniting more than 21,000 independent agencies across the United States. For more information, go to www.trustedchoice.com or www.iiabny.org.

 
 
 
Tim Dodge, AU, ARM, CPCU
Director of Research and Media Relations
Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York, Inc.
5784 Widewaters Parkway, 1st Floor
Dewitt, NY 13214
Phone: 800-962-7950 ext. 229
           800-851-8853 ext. 229 (direct)           
Fax: 888-432-0510  
E-mail: tdodge@iiabny.org

 

 
Need Help Recovering from Sandy?


Your IIABNY team is here to help.
Call us 24/7 at 800-962-7950, ext 212
Visit our Storm Resources page
 Holiday Gems The Hudson Valley glitters with celebrations of the season.
 
Hudson Valley, NY (November 2012) -  Memories are made here. Get your sparkle on in the Hudson Valley this year for a holiday filled with nifty gifts and beautifully decorated destinations. The entire valley glistens with twinkly lights and old fashioned celebrations to dazzle every eye, young and old.
 
Jingle bells herald your arrival to the utterly unique Hickory Dickory Dock gift shop in Nyack where hundreds of smiling faces greet you. Elves, Santas, angels, gnomes and a host of others draw you into the gaily decorated shop. The owners travel to Germany every year for hand-carved cuckoo clocks, nutcrackers, delicate music boxes, and unique ornaments that adorn the cozy and inviting store. Holiday cheer also sparkles at Gillinder Glass in Port Jervis. One of America's oldest glass companies, the gift shop is resplendent in the jewel tones of ornaments, vases, paperweights, jewelry, sun catchers, lamps, and numerous pieces of home décor. If you didn't know better, you'd think these collectibles were crafted by elves, but take the special factory tour to see how Gillinder's beautiful pieces are made.
 
Thanksgiving brings up the curtain to wondrous weekends here. Hudson Valley villages look like magical stage sets twinkling up and down the river. Full of the Dickens, the Old Dutch Church in Tarrytown hosts musical storytelling performances of the seasonal favorite A CHRISTMAS CAROL on Saturdays through December 22nd. Warm up across the street with complimentary hot chocolate, cider and cookies while you browse for holiday gifts for everyone on your list at Philipsburg Manor. The day after Thanksgiving may be "Black Friday," but not in Albany's Washington Park. Tree branches, gardens, and open spaces are illuminated with fantastical displays at the annual Capital Holiday Lights in the Park through January 5th. Seasonal music plays as you drive past dozens of brightly lit displays bringing you to the Lake House for refreshments, craft vendors, costumed characters, children's entertainment, and a meet and greet with the big guy himself, Santa Claus!   
 
Hudson River houses built over 100 years ago are one of the most charming aspects of the region. With architecture perfectly suited for ornamentation, homes like Wilderstein in Rhinebeck carry decoration like a finely dressed woman. Well known florists and designers have transformed the 1888 Queen Anne riverfront mansion room by room into a magical holiday spectacular to tour at your leisure on weekends through December. The 1827 Federal-style Hart-Cluett House in Troy is also a splendid floral showcase. Inspired by beloved holiday songs, twelve rooms of the mansion have been transformed with this year's theme, "Christmas Melodies" by the Van Rensselaer Garden Club. For a special treat, take one of the alluring candlelight tours to see the décor in all its glowing beauty.
 
There's nothing better than opening presents, and you'll get a whole village to open with Downtown New Paltz Unwrapped the weekend of November 30th. Stores unveil their holiday windows while the rich scent of mulled cider and baked treats wafting from the doorways lures you in to shop. Children can join the Gnome Hunt while adults use their Passport Coupons for extra special buys. Join the crowds that night for a surprise event on North Front Street. Across the river, the City of Hudson celebrates the beginning of the season with its Winter Walk on Warren Street, December 1st. A trumpet fanfare announces the arrival of the Santa Parade and the street becomes a festive thoroughfare with twinkling lights, brightly decorated shops, horse-drawn wagons offering rides, stilt walkers and marionettes, bagpipers and live reindeer. Look for Frosty the Snowman on the street, as well as Scrooge and Marley's Ghost, the walking Grandfather Clock, Tin Soldier, and a host of angels, snowflakes and elves of all sizes.
 
Village walks celebrating the season are a Hudson Valley tradition. One of the best known is Cold Spring by Candlelight, also on December 1st. This charming 19th century riverside village welcomes visitors to a dozen historic sites and homes within easy walking distance of each other. The day is filled with craft fairs, ice carving events, and family-friendly activities throughout the quaint town. Strolling carolers serenade visitors while actors dressed in Dickensian garb perform and pose for photos with guests. That same day, the village of Catskill bedazzles you with its Holiday on Main Street. The lilt of seasonal favorites fills the air as you visit the gaily decorated stores. Take the kids to see Santa, then oh what fun it is to ride on a horse and sleigh ride to get into the spirit. The day ends with the formal lighting of a magnificent tree in downtown, ushering in a season of bright lights and much celebration!
 
This season, turn off technology and turn on tradition. The Hudson Valley is decked out with all the trimmings to dazzle the eye and lift the spirit. Make some new holiday memories in our charming small towns up and down the river. No humbug here!
Hudson Valley Tourism, Inc. is the 10-county region designated by I LOVE NEW YORK to promote tourism for the area. Counties include Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Ulster and Westchester. Regional information can be obtained from any of the county tourism offices, the Hudson Valley Tourism website, www.travelhudsonvalley.com, http://travelhv.mobi or by calling 845-615-3860