Chris is the president at CBAuthentix Business Services, a bookkeeping principal, Enrolled Agent and QuickBooks Pro Advisor.
2 minutes reading time (424 words)

Victim of a Disaster, Fire or Theft? Take advantage of the Casualty loss deduction

This past Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend New York City FDNY 148th Medal Day.  The bravery, courage and strength that these men provide for our city is unbelievable. THANK YOU!  If there is a lesson that I learned throughout my years about fire, it’s never to underestimate a fire.  No matter how big or how small the fire is, get out and as far away from the building as quickly as possible.  Don’t worry about grabbing your personal belongings because the slightest bit of black smoke will knock you out unconscious.  Also, there may be some attractive tax advantages for your property that is lost or damaged that I will discuss in today’s post.

If you suffered damage to your home or personal property last year, you may be able to deduct these “casualty” losses on your federal income tax return. A casualty is a sudden, unexpected or unusual event, such as a natural disaster (hurricane, tornado, flood, earthquake, etc.), fire, accident, theft or vandalism. A casualty loss doesn’t include losses from normal wear and tear or progressive deterioration from age or termite damage.

Here are some things you should know about deducting casualty losses:

When to deduct. Generally, you must deduct a casualty loss on your return for the year it occurred. However, if you have a loss from a federally declared disaster area, you may have the option to deduct the loss on an amended return for the immediately preceding tax year.

Amount of loss. Your loss is generally the lesser of 1) your adjusted basis in the property before the casualty (typically, the amount you paid for it), or 2) the decrease in fair market value of the property as a result of the casualty. This amount must be reduced by any insurance or other reimbursement you received or expect to receive. (If the property was insured, you must have filed a timely claim for reimbursement of your loss.)

$100 rule. After you’ve figured your casualty loss on personal-use property, you must reduce that loss by $100. This reduction applies to each casualty loss event during the year. It doesn’t matter how many pieces of property are involved in an event.

10% rule. You must reduce the total of all your casualty or theft losses on personal-use property for the year by 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). In other words, you can deduct these losses only to the extent they exceed 10% of your AGI.

Have questions about deducting casualty losses? Contact us!

Chris Boyer, EA


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