Tax advice after a hurricane evacuation

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I was one of those people who left their home and could not return during Hurricane Irma. I did not evacuate. I was in Las Vegas taking tax classes, and Savannah was closed when I was ready to return.

So I ended up in Charlotte, along with my niece who was house sitting, several pets and my car. All I lost was half of a tree. No damage to the house.

The IRS rules are pretty well developed and not friendly to the homeowner. Mandatory evacuation is for your health and safety but not necessarily a tax deduction - unless you sustained damage to your property that exceeded any reimbursement from your insurance company.

To make it worse, any loss claimed goes on your Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. Since many Americans do not have enough deductions to itemize, the deduction is useless.

But to go over the basics to see if you have enough to deduct, do the following:

Add all of your expenses relating to Hurricane Irma including lodging, car, furniture, contractors, waste removal and so on.

Subtract from that total any reimbursement from your insurance company, 10 percent of your AGI (the last number on page one of form 1040 and the first number on page two) and $100.

If there is something left, it is a miscellaneous deduction taken on Schedule A.

If you are confused and still haven't figured out Hurricane Matthew, consult your tax professional or, for the do-it-yourselfers, look at form 4684.

Form 4684, titled Casualties and Theft, is a three-page form with five pages of instructions. There is one backup manual, Publications 547, and two nifty workbooks, Publication 584 for personal use property and Publication 584-B for business property.

The workbooks should be consulted. They list items you might want to include such as bedroom and den furnishings, telephones that ended up in water and needed replacing, computers, kitchen cabinets and a multitude of items. Plus there is space for miscellaneous.

All of this can be downloaded if you visit IRS.gov, if you can figure out how to maneuver within the new web pages.

If nothing else works, consult your tax professional.

Virginia Moryadas is a tax preparation professional in Bluffton.

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