Lee County receives tax filing deadline extension

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By Justin Smith
For the Opelika
Observer

President Donald Trump recently approved a declaration naming Lee County as a disaster area after the severe weather and tornadoes that devastated our area on March 3. In line with that declaration, the Internal Revenue Service announced it would postpone tax filing deadline for individuals and business owners in Lee County. The normal filing deadline for individuals is April 15 (with a six-month extension until Oct. 15 upon request). The IRS modified this year’s April 15 deadline to July 31.
Additionally, taxpayers who wish to make a contribution to their Individual Retirement Account (IRA) may also now defer making that investment until July 31 for 2018 contributions. Further, tax payments normally due by April 15 to avoid penalty may be extended through July 31.
Nonresidents who do business in Lee County may also take advantage of the extended filing deadline.
The IRS has announced the extensions include nearly all types of tax returns (including individual, corporate and estate/trust tax returns, partnership returns, and S Corporation returns). Even payroll returns have been extended for our area.
Following the announcement from the IRS, the Alabama Department of Revenue has also offered tax relief to Alabama taxpayers. Tax filing deadlines for Alabama returns have also been extended until July 31, and penalty relief will also be provided. The Department of Revenue has instructed taxpayers to write “Tornado Relief – 2019” on paper-filed returns, and has requested taxpayers call their office for electronically filed returns.
Regardless of the situation, taxpayers may and should still file on time to the extent possible or file for a normal extension by the April 15 deadline. Although the disaster relief is available for all taxpayers in the county, it is best to file normal procedures as best as you can. If you need more time to file, I recommend that you go ahead and file for your extension by April 15.
Beware Disaster-Related Charity Fraud
Unfortunately, one of the post-disaster risks many taxpayers will face is related to individuals and organizations who fraudulently purport to be a charitable organization providing disaster relief services.
Organizations or individuals may ask for donations and state they are tax-deductible. It is certainly great to be generous in the hour of need of so many people, but do your due diligence and make sure you are contributing to a legitimate, reputable organization.
Sites such as Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau can help ensure you are contributing to a reputable organization. Most churches in the area, along with well-known nonprofits such as the Red Cross, Salvatian Army, Samaritan’s Purse and others are trustworthy and outstanding, but make sure that your contributions are going where you expect them to.
Remember – you may be concerned that your charitable contributions won’t be deductible this year because of the increased federal standard deduction, but Alabama (and Georgia) taxes are virtually unchanged, and you may still receive a nice deduction on your state taxes. Keep those receipts!
Justin Smith is a licensed certified public accountant in Opelika, specializing in individual and small business tax and accounting. He can be contacted at 251-209-2579 or Justin@JSmithCPA.net. His website is www.jsmithcpa.net.

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