Monday, June 28, 2010

IRS Provides Tax Help, Guidance to Gulf Oil Spill Victims

Over the weekend, the IRS published a new press release with guidance for individuals and businesses affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and announced a number of new efforts to help affected taxpayers, including a special Gulf Coast Assistance Day on July 17.

“This is a very difficult time for many people affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As residents of the region cope with the evolving situation, I want to assure them that the IRS will be doing everything it can to provide tax help to those who need it,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “We encourage anyone who has an issue with the IRS to contact us and explain their hardship, and we will work with them to find a solution. We’ll do everything we can under current law to help taxpayers.”

The guidance released today is based on current law, and it explains how recipients of payments from BP should treat the payments for tax purposes. According to the current law, BP payments for lost income are taxable in the same way that the wages or business income these payments are replacing would have been. The law treats compensation for lost wages or income differently for tax purposes than compensation for physical injuries or property loss, which generally are nontaxable.

Every person can have unique financial circumstances, so the IRS encourages taxpayers to review their tax situation or talk with their tax preparers about the implications of payments or compensation from the oil spill.

The new information is available in a question-and-answer format on a special section of the IRS website, The IRS is closely monitoring the situation in the Gulf, and additional information will be added to as it becomes available.

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