Disaster assistance and emergency relief for individuals and businesses


Before the IRS can authorize tax relief for disaster victims, the President must sign a major disaster or emergency declaration. When a disaster occurs a preliminary damage assessment is conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the request of the governor of the affected State, FEMA will issue a disaster declaration identifying the covered areas for relief.

The IRS will automatically provide administrative disaster tax relief and special tax law provisions that grants additional time for individuals and businesses to file returns, pay taxes, and perform certain other time-sensitive acts to taxpayers affected by a federally declared disaster. Some circumstances may apply.

The administrative disaster tax relief includes the postponement of filing and payment deadlines for eligible taxpayers and is based on preliminary damage assessments by FEMA. For current tax relief provisions search Tax relief in disaster situations and visit Around the nation for IRS disaster relief news releases specific to states affected by disasters.

Who are affected taxpayers?

Affected taxpayers are defined as:

  • Individuals whose principal residence is located in a covered disaster area and their spouse, if filing jointly.
  • Business entities or sole proprietors whose principal place of business is located in a covered disaster area.
  • Relief workers affiliated with government or philanthropic organizations assisting in a covered disaster area.
  • Taxpayers not located in a disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline to perform certain acts are maintained or located in a covered disaster area.
  • Any individual visiting a covered disaster area who was killed or injured as a result of the disaster, or any other person determined by the IRS to be affected by a federally declared disaster.

Types of disaster tax relief

The President can declare a major disaster for any natural event, including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought, or, regardless of cause, fire, flood, or explosion, that he/she determines has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond.

There are two types of disaster declarations provided in the Robert T. Stafford Act:

Emergency declarations and major disaster declarations. Both declaration types authorize the President to provide supplemental federal disaster assistance.

  • Emergency declarations
    • Supplement state and local or Indian tribal government efforts in providing emergency services, such as the protection of lives, property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States.
  • Major disaster declarations
    • Individual assistance declarations provide assistance to individuals and households.
    • Public assistance declarations provide assistance to state, tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.

Amended declarations are designation requests from the governor, the governor’s authorized representative, or tribal chief executive can request for additional counties and programs to be added within 30 days of a disaster declaration. To search for declared disasters and emergencies by state go to FEMA.gov.

Disaster relief resources for individuals and businesses

Reconstructing your records after a disaster may be essential for tax purposes, getting federal assistance or insurance reimbursement. After a disaster, taxpayers might need certain records to prove their loss. The more accurately the loss is estimated, the more loan and grant money there may be available.

The IRS provides disaster loss workbooks for individuals (Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook) and businesses (Publication 584-B, Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook) that are designed to help taxpayers compile a room-by-room list of their belongings or business equipment. These publications are a great tool to help individuals and businesses recall and prove the market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims.

Taxpayers may deduct casualty and theft losses relating to their home, household items, and vehicles on their federal income tax return if the loss is caused by a federally declared disaster. To find out more about causality, disaster and theft losses, and other general individual and business tax information, visit the IRS Tax topics page.

Disaster relief assistance and resources

The primary focus of the IRS is to relieve the federal tax burden of taxpayers who have been impacted by federally declared disasters. The IRS works with various agencies to provide assistance and coordinate disaster relief. Each of the following agencies provide valuable information for assisting taxpayers impacted by disasters.

Forms, instructions and publications

The IRS Forms, instructions and publications page provides resources for disaster victims who need federal income tax forms, publications and charitable organizations information. Just type “Disaster” in the search bar. Publication 3067 PDF is one of many disaster-related tax relief products that provides information to help home and business owners prepare and recover in an event of a disaster. It is available in multiple languages and is often provided at FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers where disaster assistance information is distributed.

Additional information

The FAQs for disaster victims page provides guidance and answers to frequently asked questions to those affected by disasters. If you were impacted by a federally declared disaster and received a notice or letter from the IRS; visit the Understanding your CP14 notice page for more information about available tax relief for affected taxpayers.

The IRS also provides a variety of tax relief for those affected by the Coronavirus. For the latest updates, check the Coronavirus tax relief page.

Contact your local IRS office

You can get free telephone assistance and local solutions to tax problems at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center near your area, just call for an in-person appointment. Free tax assistance is also available at the Let us help you page.

Disaster planning video presentations

The IRS also offers audio presentations on planning for disasters. These presentations discuss business continuity planning, insurance coverage, recordkeeping, and other tips to stay in business after a major disaster.