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Tax tips for tornado survivors as deadline lingers - KOAM TV 7

Tax tips for tornado survivors as deadline lingers

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This coming Tuesday is the deadline to turn in your state and federal tax returns.  Many financial experts say they've seen a lot of frustrated taxpayers especially in the Joplin area.

For many residents the receipts and files needed for tax forms are gone.

Carrell Day prepares taxes and he applied for a first time home buyer credit in 2008.  He was worried he would have to pay off the rest of what was owed of the credit.  But he didn't because he bought a new home.

This is just one example of many that tornado survivors need to know about while filing their taxes.

"I was really glad when I did the research, and anyone else in that situation would find that that's like getting a few thousand dollar refund," Day says.

Day lived near the corner of 25th and Reinmiller in Duquesne, Missouri before May 22.

"We were coming home from church the week before the tornado, and as we turned onto east 25th street I mentioned to my wife I said 'I really like our neighborhood with the old oak trees.'"

The tornado turned trees into sticks and the Day family has since decided to rebuild elsewhere.

Before the tornado, Day had tried to prepare for a disaster by keeping financial records in a bookcase inside his home.

"The book did get some moisture in it but we were able to reconstruct everything - I have a couple of safes now that I plan on putting everything in," Day says.  "Don't overlook the little things, like the little smart drives that would cost you $18 to $20 a piece."

Those little, claimed items on a tax form could add up to a profit if they exceed your standard deduction amount.

Certified public accountant Jim Hardy is learning the same lessons.

"We've had some new clients that typically did their own taxes that had no idea how to deal with the disaster," Hardy says.

A database stores each of his 3,500 client's confidential files.

"It's also important to check if items given after the tornado are classified as awards or gifts," Hardy says.  "Awards are taxable, grants are usually not taxable., and gifts are not taxable to the recipient.  But the paperwork, the actual transaction, you need to take to your accountant or tax preparer so they can evaluate what they really got."

Documentation is a must.

"The basics that we need to know is the cost of what was destroyed, what it cost you," says Hardy.  "The market value of the item that was destroyed immediately before the disaster, and the market value of the item immediately after the disaster, and the amount of insurance recovery."

Frustration comes easily, especially for customers.

You have to pay for tax advice, but sometimes it's worth following the fine print without reading it yourself.

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