Prepared Remarks to Accompany IR-2005-96
IRS COMMISSIONER MARK W. EVERSON
TREASURY PRESS CONFERENCE ON HURRICANE TAX RELIEF
Sept. 8, 2005
Like all Americans, the IRS wants to do whatever it can to help people recover from this tragedy as quickly as possible.
Last week, we made an initial decision to extend tax deadlines for affected areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and three counties in Florida until Oct. 31. At the time, we said we would review the duration of this extension as circumstances developed. Today, we are announcing that we are further extending key tax filing and payment deadlines until the end of the year. This rolls over to the first business day of the new year, which is Jan. 3.
This relief includes the Sept. 15 due date for estimated taxes and for calendar-year corporate returns with automatic extensions. It includes the Oct. 17 deadline for individuals who received a second extension for filing their individual income tax returns. And it includes the Oct. 31 deadline for filing quarterly federal employment and excise tax returns. We’ll waive interest and late filing and payment penalties during this period.
In addition, we’re announcing later today that we’re extending tax deadlines for tax-exempt bonds.
We will continue to watch developments involving the affected areas, and we’ll provide additional relief as circumstances warrant.
The second point I want to make is to amplify what the Secretary said. We want to encourage employers and taxpayers to take advantage of the new leave donation program. We will allow employees to donate their vacation or sick leave in exchange for their employer sending cash payments to charitable groups helping Katrina victims. To put it simply, workers can turn their unused vacation or sick leave into cash to help the hurricane victims.
About two-thirds of Americans take the standard tax deduction. For these non-itemizers, taxpayers get the tax benefit of a charitable deduction, which they don’t normally get when they don’t itemize. It’s a good thing for taxpayers.
This program will extend through the end of 2006. So people can have a chance to donate even if they’ve used their vacation time this year.
We urge workers and employers to look into this option.
Finally, I want to assure taxpayers that we are closely monitoring events, and we will move quickly to address any emerging issues. We will do everything we can to help taxpayers, business and tax professionals while ensuring the smooth continuity of our nation’s tax system.