A Publication of WTVP

Knowing tax rules can help you make the most of

Floods in
the Midwest. Hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.
Wildfires in the West. Natural disasters like these can dismantle facilities,
ruin infrastructure, disrupt production and swallow profits. They also raise
common questions:

aftermath of a disaster can seem overwhelming, but you can minimize the damage
by having detailed knowledge of your insurance coverage, developing an informed
tax strategy and maintaining a good working relationship with your state legislators,
government officials and local taxing authorities.

your insurance coverage

When a
business considers the tax implications of a disaster, it is primarily
concerned with losses of property or property value, called casualties. As
defined by IRS Publication 547, a casualty is the damage, destruction or loss
of property resulting from an identifiable event that is sudden, unexpected or
unusual. Deductible casualty losses can result from a number of different
causes, including car accidents, earthquakes, fires, floods, storms (including
hurricanes and tornadoes), terrorist attacks, vandalism and volcanic eruptions.

The rules
set forth by the IRS are complex and designed to limit your casualty-loss
deduction. And since these rules take insurance proceeds into account when
calculating your deduction, you and your company may be better off by shoring
up your insurance coverage than relying on tax refunds to cover your losses.

an informed tax strategy

Your tax
strategy in the aftermath of a disaster should be based on federal, state and
local tax rules and the guidance of your professional tax advisor. Various tax
strategies can be utilized, including, but not limited to, property tax
valuation, casualty loss deductions and sales and use tax and cost segregation
of reconstruction and/or repairs.


Casualty loss is not deductible if the damage or destruction is caused by:

does not allow businesses to take deductions on the loss of future earnings due
to a disaster either. The reasoning is that if Company X loses profitability,
its tax burden falls along with the drop in its taxable earnings.

In light of
recent floods, tornados and other natural disasters that some areas have
experienced, many companies are concerned about the tax implications of
assisting their employees. As a general rule, any payment from an employer to
an employee is presumed to be compensation. The Supreme Court shares this view,
holding that companies do not typically make gifts to employees out of disinterested generosity.

If a payment to
an individual is neither compensation nor a loan, then it is considered to be a
gift, which is nondeductible for income tax purposes for the company making the
gift and subject to gift tax reporting rules and possibly gift tax. Gifts to
charities, on the other hand, are deductible for both income tax purposes and
gift tax purposes.

There are new rules related to payments to an employer
disaster relief fund. If the fund meets IRS
requirements, the contributions to the fund may be allowed as a tax deduction
on the company’s tax return. The fund typically serves a single, identified,
charitable purpose, which is to provide relief from one or more qualified
disasters. While these rules are relatively complex, the establishment of such
a fund could achieve the company goals of assisting an affected employee or
group of employees in a tax-efficient manner.

There are special IRS rules related to payments made to
individuals in a presidentially-declared disaster area. These rules are typically
related to payments made by a state or federal agency. Contact your tax advisor
for more information related to employer disaster relief funds. iBi