Hurricane Harvey & Irma Tax Relief

IRS Offering Tax Relief for Victims of Hurricanes Harvey & Irma

In the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, and the recent disaster declaration by President Trump, the IRS is offering tax relief to Texas victims affected by the storm:

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Aug. 23, 2017 and before Jan. 31, 2018, are granted additional time to file through Jan. 31, 2018. This includes taxpayers who had a valid extension to file their 2016 return that was due to run out on Oct. 16, 2017. It also includes the quarterly estimated income tax payments originally due on Sept. 15, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018, and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Oct. 31, 2017. In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Aug. 23, 2017, and before Sept. 7, 2017, will be abated as long as the deposits were made by Sept. 7, 2017.

If an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date that falls within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate the penalty.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.

As of 9/5/17, the following Texas counties have been approved for extended IRS deadlines:

  • Aransas
  • Bee
  • Brazoria
  • Calhoun
  • Chambers
  • Fort Bend
  • Galveston
  • Goliad
  • Harris
  • Jackson
  • Kleberg
  • Liberty
  • Matagorda
  • Nueces
  • Refugio
  • San Patricio
  • Victoria
  • Wharton
  • Colorado
  • Fayette
  • Hardin
  • Jasper
  • Jefferson
  • Montgomery
  • Newton
  • Orange
  • Sabine
  • San Jacinto
  • Waller
  • Austin
  • Batrop
  • DeWitt
  • Gonzales
  • Karnes
  • Lavaca
  • Lee
  • Polk
  • Tyler
  • Walker

Taxpayers can download forms and publications from the official IRS website,, or order them by calling toll free 800-829-3676.  Contact an R&G Brenner tax professional if you require assistance; (888) APRIL-15.

UPDATE 9-15-17

Likewise, the IRS is offering tax relief for those affected by Hurricane Irma.

The IRS is offering this relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as qualifying for individual assistance. Parts of Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are currently eligible, but taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area, including those in other states, will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief. The current list of eligible localities is always available on the disaster relief page on

Why Low Oil Prices Are Bad News for State Budgets

Low Oil Prices Aren't Good For Everybody
Low Oil Prices Aren’t Good For Everybody

While many states rely heavily on taxes levied on the oil and gas industry, the falling price of oil in recent months is contributing to the drying-up of much-needed tax revenues. How do states such as Alaska, Texas and other mineral-rich states get creative when they need to supplement their budgets? Here’s a quick look at why low oil prices are bad news for state budgets.

Rainy Day Funds

Sure, you love the low price of gas at the pump when filling up, but not everyone thinks this is great. States like Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming depend on severance taxes levied on oil and gas producers, and with oil prices plunging from $96 a barrel in July 2014 to about $50 a barrel today, these states have no choice but to tap into their rainy day funds, slash spending or raise taxes, according to The Huffington Post.

Each state on this list is affected differently. For example, Texas produces more than 100 million barrels per month of oil—more than anywhere else in the nation—yet only nine percent of its revenues are sourced from severance taxes. This stands in stark contrast to Alaska, which only produces 16 million barrels a month yet derives nearly 80 percent of its revenue from severance taxes.

States’ Responses

The hardest-hit states, such as Alaska, Texas and Montana, have to consider some hard realities in order to offset the reduction in tax revenues. What they could once count on as a given is no longer an option. With Alaska currently experiencing a $3.6 billion gap in its $6.1 billion budget, law makers in the state are proposing a spending cut of between five and eight percent.

There are other options for Alaska, though: it could tap into its Permanent Fund, which contains money from surplus revenues resulting from the development of the state’s invested oil and gas reserves. This fund currently shells out a yearly dividend to eligible Alaska residents. Currently, that fund holds about $50 billion. Stripping the state spending budget only to essential services could help offset the reduced severance taxes coming in, but over the long haul, many decision-makers feel it’s wise to create a more balanced tax structure to handle dips in the availability of severance funds.

North Dakota is another state looking at a cut in severance taxes—from $8 billion in oil revenue to $4 billion. Its reserve fund holds about $1 billion currently, which includes money earmarked for water projects, disaster relief and infrastructure improvements. However, the state can’t dip into this until a 2.5 percent cut has been made to all state agencies. At the federal level, Congress is considering stepping in to raise the gas tax for the first time since 1993, where this tax has remained at 18.4 cents per gallon, according to The Washington Post. However, that is not a certainty and Congress is still debating the issue.

While the states facing this oil and gas revenue shortage are by no means broke, this situation does pose a challenge for them, prompting more creative uses of budgetary resources.  However, these States would be wise to start thinking about contingency plans as low oil prices could become the “new normal”; especially since the push for clean & renewable energy has been reinvigorated as prices drop and climate change becomes harder and harder to deny.

Which States Are Tax-Friendliest?

Top "Tax-Friendly" States
Top “Tax-Friendly” States

If you’re willing to relocate, you can save quite a bit of money on taxes. By shopping around from state to state, you can save significant amounts on your bill for business or personal taxes. According to Entrepreneur, individuals can save 10% to 30% simply by moving. States and municipalities set widely different tax rates on personal income, gas, property and sales. Your business could enjoy major savings in a different state.

But don’t pack those boxes yet: determining which state is complicated as the states that have business-friendly tax policies are not always the most tax-friendly for individuals and vice versa. To help you decide if there is a move in your future, here is a closer look at which states are “tax-friendliest”.

The Top Tax-Friendliest States for Individuals

Tax rates in a number of states are easy on the personal budget. Florida ranks high as a tax friendly state for individuals because it charges no personal income tax. Property is taxed at just 3.45%, well below the national average. Add that to the fact that it’s warm all year round, and it makes for an attractive destination for a move.

If life in the Southwest suits your fancy, you can do well on the personal tax side. Nevada also has no income tax and the rate on property is just 3%. New Mexico does charge income tax at 1.70% to 4.9%, but property is taxed at just 1.93%. Utah is a bit higher at a 5% income tax rate, but property rates are set at 2.75%.

In the West, Wyoming has no income tax and the rate on gas is a mere $0.14 a gallon. The sales tax is 4%. Washington State has no income tax, and property is taxed at 2.91%, but the state levies a 6.5% sales tax to help fund its annual budget. If you love beautiful scenery and hate paying taxes, consider Alaska. There is no personal income tax there either, nor any sales tax. Property tax is just 4.55%.

Business Taxes

According to USA Today, three states—Wyoming, South Dakota and Nevada—are especially friendly for businesses. All three have no corporate income tax or gross receipts tax, as well as no personal income tax.

Each of the three states has set up a solid tax base that doesn’t rely on personal and general business taxes. Wyoming charges taxes on the extraction of oil, coal, gas and minerals for its tax base, which produces close to $1 billion each year for the state. South Dakota has a strong economy built on two foundations. Its had a policy of actively attracting credit card companies to set up business in the state since the 1980s. In addition, Ellsworth Air Force Base is a major employer. Nevada, of course, has its casinos, which provide 5% of its tax needs. The state also has taxes on drilling for gas and oil.

What Makes a State Tax-Friendly?

According to the study done each year by the Tax Foundation, there are a number of factors that impact how tax-friendly a state is. Even if a state has no corporate tax, it may have a gross receipts tax, which can actually increase what a company has to pay at tax time. Then too, within each state some counties are more tax-friendly than others, complicating the decision of where to move.

The fact that a state does not have a personal income tax or a sales tax helps businesses as well as individuals. That’s why Alaska is number four on the list of the top 10 business tax-friendly states as well as being one of the tax-friendliest for individuals. The fact that Alaska has a high corporate tax is balanced by the absence of a sales tax or personal income tax.

Florida, with no personal income tax, is number five on the list, even though it is ranked #14 for its corporate tax. Montana is sixth because it has no sales tax, which offsets the fact that its corporate tax rate earns it its spot at #18 on the list of business tax-friendly states. Rounding out the top 10 are New Hampshire, Indiana, Utah and Texas.

If you’re paying more than you think you should at tax time, perhaps a move to another part of the country should be considered. You and your business could save a bundle when the taxman comes around next year by simply relocating to a different, tax-friendlier state.

Arizona Bills $53 Million

Arizona Wants $53 Million In Sales Taxes

The State of Arizona is taking the first crack at trying to collect sales tax from–the biggest online discount retailer.  According to a filing with the SEC, Arizona calculated that Amazon owes the state & various cities $53 Million in uncollected taxes from March 1st, 2006 through December 31st 2010.

Amazon plans to defend itself from the charges:  “We believe that the assessment is without merit and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter…Depending on the amount and the timing, an unfavorable resolution of this matter could materially affect our business, results of operations, financial position, or cash flows.”

Other states including Illinois, Arkansas, Connecticut, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Texas are all fighting for Amazon to collect sales tax.  With severely cash strapped states and the public nature the national debt conversation, it appears it is only a matter of time before online retailers like Amazon are forced to collect sales tax.   The outcome of the Arizona suit & others that are sure to follow are of little consequence.  Amazon will simply have to collect sales tax or not.  However, collecting sales tax equates to higher prices for users of  Its usually the consumer that ultimately suffers.

Source: Direct Marketing News