Ohio Flood Victims May Be Eligible for Aid

Late in May 2019, severe thunderstorms impacted various parts of the state of Ohio. As a result, President Trump declared a Federal Disaster area for 11 counties in Ohio, including Mahoning County. The full list of affected counties is: Auglaize, Darke, Greene, Hocking, Mahoning, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery, Muskingum, Perry and Pickaway. For further details visit FEMA.gov.

Under the Federal Disaster area declaration, individuals within Mahoning County impacted by flooding on May 28th are eligible to apply for financial assistance under the FEMA Individual Assistance program.

Individuals impacted are encouraged to register for Federal Assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov, or visit the temporary Disaster Recovery Center in the Boardman Township Administration Building which will remain open until further notice.

All FEMA assistance monies awarded to individuals are tax-free.

In addition, individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations within Mahoning County are eligible to apply for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to assist in repairing or replacing real estate, personal property, inventories, equipment, etc. which was damaged or destroyed as a result of the flooding. For additional information on how to apply for an SBA loan, please visit disasterloan.sba.gov.

Tax Implications for Individuals

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, individuals are eligible to deduct personal casualty losses so long as the loss occurred within a Federal Disaster Area. According to the IRS, a casualty loss can result from the damage, destruction, or loss of your property from any sudden, unexpected, or unusual event such as a flood or tornado. Being that Mahoning County has been included in the Federal Disaster Area declaration, there may be an opportunity for some taxpayers to deduct a casualty loss on their personal return.

Casualty losses are only eligible for those taxpayers who qualify for itemized deductions; this means Married Filing Jointly (MFJ) taxpayers in excess of $24,400 in itemized deductions, while single and MFS would have to exceed $12,200 in deductions to itemize. Such casualty losses also must be in excess of 10% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).

The regulations call for personal casualty losses to be the lesser of the adjusted basis of your property, or the decrease in the FMV of the property as a result of the casualty. Furthermore, any loss must be reduced by any insurance proceeds received and also any FEMA assistance received IF the assistance was used for the replacement of lost or destroyed property.

Example:
You own a house with a basis of $90,000 right before the flooding. The FMV of the property is $87,000 right before the flooding and the Fair Market Value (FMV) of the property immediately after the casualty is $70,000. Your decline in the FMV of $17,000 is less than your adjusted basis of $90,000. In addition, you receive insurance proceeds of $5,000. Your deduction before 10% of AGI is $12,000.

For assistance in determining a loss amount, it is best to consult a CPA who can assist in navigating the different methods for preparing the computation(s). For more information, contact Michael Metzinger at 330-758-8613 or MMetzinger@hbkcpa.com

About the Author(s)
Michael Metzinger, CPA is a manager with HBK CPAs & Consultants and has been with the firm since 2013. He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Youngstown State University where he majored in accounting and finance. Michael has extensive experience in business and individual accounting, tax planning, and payroll tax compliance.
Hill, Barth & King LLC has prepared this material for informational purposes only. Any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or under any state or local tax law or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the matter.