Mother Nature wasn't exactly kind to the Mountain State last year. Between the Leap Day flood, the June Derecho, and Superstorm Sandy, plenty of families had to deal with the damage those storms left to their homes and businesses. Now that tax season is in full swing, some may be looking to claim those losses, but it's not as easy as it seems. First, you must be able to itemize.
"To be able to itemize, you have to have more expenses than the standard deduction, otherwise it wouldn't benefit you to itemize at all," said Lisa Gallagher, lead tax preparer at Liberty Tax Service in Fairmont.
Tax preparers say deductions that you can itemize include: casualty and theft losses, medical expenses that are more than seven percent of your income, property or real estate taxes, and gifts to charity.
If you were already reimbursed for your damages, from FEMA or your insurance company, then you must deduct that from the amount you lost. But the rules don't stop there.
"It is a process. Once you do finally have your loss amount, after the reimbursements are taken off of it, you have to subtract $100 plus 10 percent of your adjusted gross income from the amount, and then that's the amount that you're allowed to claim," said Lisa Gallagher.
You also must be able to prove the property is yours, or that you are liable for damages, and show proof of that loss. Tax preparers say so far this year, not many people have been claiming their storm damages.
"If they have minimal damage, then it's probably not worth it. I mean, if they're able to itemize then anything could help, but if they don't have enough to be able to itemize then it's not going to do them any good," said Lisa Gallagher.
People who had to deal with a theft or fire can also try to claim damages. Basically deductions for any type of disaster damage to homes, cars, and other property are a good example.
To help calculate the value of your losses, visit http://www.irs.gov/