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September 27, 2020
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California taxpayers affected by wildfires granted extension

September 4, 2020

The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) announced special tax filing relief for Californians affected by wildfires. Taxpayers in governor-declared or presidentially declared disaster areas are granted an extension to file tax year 2019 California tax returns until December 15, 2020.

“We are doing everything we can to help people affected by these devastating wildfires focus their immediate attention on themselves, their families and their properties,” said State Controller and FTB Chair Betty T. Yee.

FTB automatically conforms to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) postponement periods for presidentially declared disasters.

On August 24, the IRS granted relief to individuals and businesses in eight California counties: Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo. Any counties added later to the disaster area will be granted the same extension of time to file.

This relief applies to various upcoming tax filing deadlines including: 

• Individual filers whose previous tax-filing extension was set to end October 15. Because tax payments related to these returns were originally due on July 15, any payments associated with these filings are not eligible for relief. 

• Calendar-year tax-exempt organizations whose previous 2019 extensions were due to end November 15.

 Taxpayers who are victims of wildfires may claim a deduction for a disaster loss sustained in an area proclaimed by the governor to be in a state of emergency. For a complete list of all disasters declared by the governor, see the “List of Disasters” chart on FTB’s disaster loss webpage. Additional information and instructions are available in FTB Publication 1034, 2019 Disaster Loss: How to Claim a State Tax Deduction. 

Taxpayers may claim their disaster loss in one of two ways. They may claim the disaster loss for the 2020 tax year when they file their return next spring, or they may claim the loss against 2019 income on this year’s return. An amended return may be filed by those who already have filed this year. The advantage of claiming the disaster loss in the prior tax year is that the FTB can issue a refund sooner. 

Taxpayers claiming the disaster loss should write the name of the disaster in blue or black ink at the top of their tax returns to alert FTB and to expedite any refund. If taxpayers are filing electronically, they should follow the software instructions to enter disaster information.

Disaster victims also may receive free copies of their state returns to replace those lost or damaged. Taxpayers may complete form FTB 3516 and write the name of the disaster in blue or black ink (for example, L.N.U. Fire) at the top of the request.