Tax Relief Available for Wildfire Survivors
Sacramento – After wildfires raged throughout our neighborhoods, the California State Board of Equalization Vice Chair Fiona Ma, CPA reassures survivors there are a number of resources available to help your recovery efforts.
"The level of damage caused by these unrelenting wildfires is stunning. It is heartbreaking to watch these survivors struggle to piece their lives back together. However, survivors should know there is assistance available from State and Federal agencies and non-profit organizations. We need to provide survivors with information and assistance to help speed the recovery process," said Board of Equalization Vice Chair Fiona Ma, CPA.
If your property has been damaged by the recent fires and erosion, you may be eligible for property tax relief. In many cases, the damaged property can be reappraised in its current condition, with some taxes refunded to the property owner. Once rebuilt, the property's pre-damaged value will be restored.
To qualify for property tax relief, you must file a claim with your county assessors' office within 12 months from the date of damage or destruction. The loss estimate must be at least $10,000 of current market value to qualify. Owners of eligible property may also apply for deferral of the next property tax installment on the regular secured roll or tax payments on the supplemental roll, without penalties or interest. When a timely claim for deferral is filed, the next property tax installment payment is deferred without penalty or interest until the county assessor has reassessed the property and a corrected tax bill has been sent to the property owner. The disaster must be the result of a Governor-proclaimed state of emergency. For further information on property tax disaster relief, visit the BOE's Disaster Relief web page.
The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration offers a number of ways for business owners to receive tax assistance including: tax extension to file returns, relief from penalties and/or interest from some taxes and fees, and replacing copies of records lost to damage.
The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) offers a disaster loss deduction, where victims can claim a disaster loss in either the year the disaster occurred or in the prior tax year, if a disaster is declared by the Governor. Taxpayers who need copies of lost or damaged state tax returns should complete FTB Form 3516. FTB Publication 1034 at has additional information and the most recent list of declared disasters.
For information about wildfire assistance offered by the Internal Revenue Service, visit their website. The Governor's Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) has information on statewide wildfire recovery resources including locations of local assistance centers, access to temporary housing services and rebuilding programs, and debris removal information. Additional disaster assistance resources can be found by visiting the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program online. If you'd like to donate or volunteer to help, visit California Volunteers.
Board Member Fiona Ma, CPA, was elected to the Board of Equalization in November 2014, to represent the Second Equalization District. She represents 9.5 million residents in many of California's coastal counties, from Del Norte to Santa Barbara, including the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Ms. Ma served in the California State Assembly from 2006 to 2012, serving as the first Asian woman Assembly Speaker pro Tempore since 1850. While in the Assembly, Ms. Ma focused on improving California, authoring legislation to create jobs and grow the state's economy. As an Executive Board Member of the National Conference of State Legislators, she worked to keep California's economy competitive with other states. Ms. Ma has been a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in California since 1992. For more information, visit Board Member Ma's website.
The five-member California State Board of Equalization (BOE) is a publicly elected tax board. The BOE serves a significant role in the assessment and administration of property taxes.
Note: This news release may discuss complex tax laws and concepts. It may not address every situation, and is not considered written advice under Revenue and Taxation Code section 6596. Changes in law or regulations may have occurred since the time this news release was written. If there is a conflict between the text of this news release and the law, decisions will be based upon the law and not this news release.