With natural disasters on the rise, more individuals are seeking financial assistance to overcome challenges created by these unfortunate events. Just recently, with the impact of Hurricane Laura and now as we prepare for Hurricane Delta, some of you may need to know about what relief may be available if these natural disasters impact you.
Mortgage Assistance Relief
What types of mortgage assistance are available to those impacted by natural disasters?
Individuals who have been impacted by natural disasters may qualify for a no down payment loan from the federal government. The mortgage relief program provides individuals a way to rebuild or replace destroyed homes due to a natural disaster. The home must be a principal place of residence and located in a federally declared disaster area to qualify. Individuals have one year from the date of the disaster to apply. They can contact an FHA approved lender for those impacted, visit the FHA Resource Center, or call 1-800-569-4287.
As it relates to tax relief, what can taxpayers expect to obtain assistance from the IRS?
Generally, following a disaster, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) puts measures in place to provide tax relief for those impacted. Those taxpayers who reside in areas deemed a federally declared disaster area claim a loss for casualty losses not covered by insurance or other reimbursements. The advantage of claiming the loss is that a taxpayer can amend the prior tax year to claim the loss or claim it on their next year’s tax return. Amending the previous return could generate a tax refund, which can help the taxpayer in a time of need. For more information, review the IRS Publication 547.
Utility Bill Relief
We know that those impacted may have a financial need relating to energy bills and repairs. What assistance is available to those in need?
For individuals who require financial assistance related to energy bills, they may be able to qualify through The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This program helps families with energy costs. Individuals can expect assistance with home energy bills, an energy crisis, and the weatherization and energy-related repairs. A person should contact the Office of Community Services at (202) 401-9351 or online to qualify.
Lastly, for those who are seeking replacement income, what steps can they take?
Individuals who have lost their income as a result of a natural disaster may be entitled to unemployment benefits as a result. Disaster unemployment benefits are available to not only employees but also those who are self-employed workers. Following a disaster, those impacted should contact the state’s unemployment office to determine if they qualify.
Kemberley Washington, CPA is a financial news contributor, author, and owner of Washington CPA Services, LLC. Follow her @kemcents!