UPDATE: FEMA Approves TN's Disaster Declaration for March Tornadoes

Date: March 25, 2020

On Wednesday, March 25, Gov. Bill Lee announced that FEMA has approved Tennessee’s disaster declaration for the remaining counties impacted by this month’s line of tornadoes. All affected counties are now covered: Benton, Carroll, Davidson, Putnam, Smith, and Wilson. Additional information can be found here.

Tax relief for storm victims

People affected by the tornadoes, severe storms, straight-line winds, and flooding that began on March 3 may qualify for tax relief from the IRS.

President Trump has declared that a major disaster occurred in the State of Tennessee, and FEMA has declared a disaster declaration for individual assistance. 

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area — Davidson, Putnam, and Wilson counties.

Certain deadlines falling on or after March 3, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, are granted additional time to file through July 15, 2020. The relief applies to:

   • Individual income tax returns due on April 15, 2020
   • Quarterly estimated income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, and June 15, 2020
   • Quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on April 30, 2020.

It also applies to tax-exempt organizations, operating on a calendar-year basis, that have a 2019 return due on May 15, 2020.

Among other things, affected taxpayers will also have until July 15, 2020, to make their 2019 IRA contributions. In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after March 3, 2020, and before March 18, 2020, will be abated as long as the tax deposits were made by March 18, 2020.

If an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date that falls within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate the penalty.

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 must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.

Visit the IRS website to learn more.

Helpful links
   • Get the latest updates from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) here.
   • For help cleaning up after the storm, call the Crisis Cleanup Hot Line at 1-800-451-1954.
   • The Tennessee Housing Development Agency is offering help in finding short-term or permanent rental housing options for storm victims. Reach them at www.TNHousingSearch.org or 1-877-428-8844.
   • To speak with a trained mental health professional, call the Crisis Phone Line is 1-855-274-7471.
   • Volunteer with Hands On Nashville.
   • Give money to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund.
   • Donate personal hygiene items to the Community Resource Center.   
   • To learn more or report a disaster-related scam, call the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs at 615-741-4743 or visit www.tn.gov/consumer.

Navigating the Claims Process

When a disaster strikes, you will at first be overwhelmed with concern about the welfare of your family, the future of your business and the seemingly mounting debt. However, the devastation caused by a disaster will raise a number of insurance coverage issues that you will need to address. Consider the following when it comes time to file and resolve your claim:

After the storm passes, call your insurance company.

At a minimum, you’ll want to ask:

  • What types of damage are covered?
  • How long will it take to process my claim?
  • Will I need to obtain estimates for repairs?
Make temporary repairs.

While it’s OK to take steps to protect your property from further damage, you should hold off on making extensive permanent repairs until the claims adjuster (a person professionally trained to assess the damage) has visited your business and assessed the damages.  Make sure you save receipts for what you spend on repairs. 

Prepare for the adjuster’s visits.

The more information you have about your damaged property ––descriptions of as many items as possible, approximate date of purchase and what it would cost to replace or repair them––the faster your claim can be settled.

  • To substantiate your loss, prepare an inventory of damaged or destroyed items and give a copy to the adjuster, along with copies of any receipts. Don’t throw out damaged items until the adjuster has visited. You should also consider photographing or videotaping the damage. If your property was destroyed, or you no longer have any records, work from memory.
  • Identify structural damage to your business and any supporting structures. Make a list of everything you want to show the adjuster, such as cracks in the walls and missing roof tiles. You should also get the electrical system checked. Most insurance companies pay for these inspections.
  • Get written bids from licensed contractors. The bids should include details of the materials to be used and prices on a line-by-line basis. This makes adjusting the claim faster and simpler.
  • Keep copies of the lists and other documents you submit to your insurance company. Also, keep copies of whatever paperwork your insurance company gives you and record the names and phone numbers of everyone to whom you speak.
After your claim has been settled and the repair work is underway.

Take the time to re-evaluate your insurance coverage. Was your business adequately insured? Did you have replacement cost coverage for all of your assets? Talk to your insurance agent about possible changes.



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