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IRS offers tax relief for Sandy victims

A man sifts through his damaged home in

A man sifts through his damaged home in Queens for items to save. (Getty) Credit: A man sifts through his damaged home in Queens for items to save. (Getty)

The hard-hit victims of superstorm Sandy have received donations of blankets, cleaning supplies and diapers. Now there may be more aid flowing their way: tax help.

Taking some lessons from the hardship faced by the thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the IRS and the Treasury Department came up with ways to ease the upcoming tax burden.

Some businesses and certain other taxpayers in hard-hit areas have extra time to file returns and pay taxes.

Some can deduct certain losses not covered by insurance. Even good Samaritans who donate cash and goods can get some relief.

"Anything to get cash to [taxpayers] sooner rather than later is a godsend," said Paul Gevertzman, partner at accounting firm Anchin, Block & Anchin. "This is a difficult time and cash flow will be a problem."

The IRS is announcing initiatives and posting updates on its web site.
"We are monitoring the situation closely to resolve potential tax administration issues as they are identified," the agency says on that site.

Other locations eligible for tax aid may be added in coming days based on additional damage assessments from FEMA.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Congress provided additional tax breaks that went beyond what the IRS can do on its own.

It's uncertain whether legislators will fold similar provisions into a larger year-end tax bill.

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