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Houston Area Taxpayers Affected by Severe Weather May Qualify for Relief from Penalties on Late Tax Returns

Update April 27, 2016 — For more current information, please see IRS Provides Tax Relief to Houston Area Storm Victims; Tax Deadline Extended to Sept. 1.

April 18, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today advised taxpayers who are affected by severe weather in the Houston area and other parts of Texas that they may qualify for relief from penalties if they are unable to meet today’s deadline for filing 2015 tax returns.

There is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund. Taxpayers who owe tax, however, should file when they are reasonably able, and expect a notice regarding late filing and late payment penalties.

The IRS reminds taxpayers they can also qualify for an automatic six-month extension to file their tax returns. The fastest and easiest way to get the extra time is through Free File. Anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension on Form 4868.

The IRS will continue to closely monitor the situation. Disaster declarations with individual assistance for areas are made by FEMA, which allows the IRS to provide additional relief for taxpayers.

If taxpayers receive a notice regarding a penalty, they can request a penalty abatement based on reasonable cause criteria. The IRS will review requests on a case-by-case basis.

Affected taxpayers may request abatement of penalties assessed on their 2015 federal income tax return by:

  1. Contacting the IRS campus that issued the penalty assessment notice. The telephone number is listed on the notice.
     
  2. Identifying themselves as a taxpayer affected by the severe storms during the period around April 18, 2016.
     
  3. Requesting penalty relief, based on reasonable cause criteria.
     
  4. Taxpayers who need to speak with an IRS representative can call 800-829-1040.