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State Tax Relief for California Wildfire Victims

Released November 19, 2008

Sacramento - The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) today announced special tax relief for California taxpayers affected by the recent wildfires in Southern California.

“By immediately claiming a disaster loss on their tax returns, those who lost their homes or suffered property damages can quickly get some financial relief,” said State Controller and FTB Chair John Chiang. “The FTB can also help them replace tax records and other important paperwork lost in the fires.”

The wildfires were declared a Federal disaster this week, and affected taxpayers are able to claim disaster losses in the current or prior tax year. Claiming the loss on a 2007 tax return filed earlier this year will allow FTB to issue refunds as quickly as possible.

Counties declared a major disaster area are: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and Santa Barbara. Specifically included were the Tea Fire in Santa Barbara County, the Sayre fire in Los Angeles County, and Triangle Complex (formerly named Freeway Complex) fire in Orange and Riverside Counties.

Taxpayers claiming the disaster loss should write “Southern California Wildfires 2008” in red ink at the top of their tax return to alert FTB to expedite the refund. If taxpayers are e-filing, they should follow the software instructions to enter the disaster information. Taxpayers can get FTB’s amended 2007 tax return or original 2007 tax return at FTB’s website, ftb.ca.gov.

Taxpayers needing copies of lost or damaged state returns should complete Form FTB 3516, “Request for Copy of Tax Return,” available online. Disaster victims can receive copies of tax returns for free. Print “Southern California Wildfires 2008” in red ink at the top of the request.

To learn more about disaster losses, refer to publications FTB 1034 “Disaster Loss” at ftb.ca.gov or the IRS 547, “Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts” at irs.gov.

Taxpayers who have questions about their accounts can call FTB toll-free at 800.852.5711 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.