Hurricane Season is Here Beware of Storms and Scams

The kids are out of school, the thermometer hits 90° every day and afternoon thunderstorms are commonplace. South Floridians know these are signs that summer has arrived. However, we also know that it means hurricane season is here.

Having weathered storms in the past, we all know enough to make sure our supplies are in hand, and our hurricane plan is in place. Take a moment now to review the steps you should take before or after a storm in order to minimize the storm’s impact on your taxes.

Remember that while the new tax act repealed the deduction for personal casualty losses from 2018 to 2025, casualty losses attributable to a federally declared disaster, as hurricanes generally are, will still be deductible.

As if the threat of a storm were not enough to worry about, the IRS has just issued an alert reminding taxpayers that scammers often prey upon the generosity of taxpayers who want to help victims of hurricanes and other major disasters. These scams generally involve the scammer contacting the taxpayer by telephone, social media, e-mail or in person and using one of the following tactics.

  1. Impersonating charities to get money or other private information such as credit card numbers.
  2. Using bogus websites with names similar to legitimate charities to trick taxpayers into sending money or providing financial information.
  3. Claiming to be working for, or on behalf of, the IRS to help victims file casualty loss claims or obtain tax refunds.
  4. Operating bogus charities to solicit money or financial information by telephone or e-mail.

You can avoid being a victim of a scam by following the recommendations of the IRS.

  1. If you are the victim of a natural disaster and have questions regarding tax relief or other disaster related tax issues, call the IRS disaster assistance center at 866-562-5227. You can also visit the disaster relief page on the IRS’s website.
  2. If you want to help the victims of a natural disaster, make sure you are donating to a legitimate charity. You can determine if a charity is legitimate by searching for the charity on the IRS’s website.
  3. Make contributions to charity by check or credit card, not cash. This will also provide proof of the donation for tax deduction purposes.
  4. Do not give out any personal information, such as social security numbers, when making a charitable contribution.

While preparation and awareness do not guarantee you will not be impacted by a storm, they should definitely thwart a scammer’s efforts to con you out of your hard earned money. Let’s hope the 2018 hurricane season is a quiet one!

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