This has been a big year for natural disasters nationwide. Marylanders weathered an earthquake and a hurricane/tropical storm within a single week in August.
For any damage to property that's not covered by insurance, you can deduct losses on your federal return, says Melissa Labant, technical manager with the American Institute of CPAs. The IRS has a formula to calculate losses, and the amount that exceeds 10 percent of adjusted gross income can be deducted on an itemized return.
But you don't have to wait until next year to claim the loss on your taxes, adds Barbara Weltman, author of "J.K. Lasser's 1001 Deductions & Tax Breaks."
If your area was declared a federal disaster site, she says, you can amend your previous return and claim the losses on it and get your refund earlier. "You will have some money to help you rebuild," she says. (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr. /August 30, 2011)
Tax season is just about here, but there is a little less pressure to file quickly.
This season, the fedeal tax deadline has been extended to April 17th. That's because the usual deadline, April 15th, falls on a weekend and the following Monday is Empancipation Day, a holiday in Washington, D.C.
You can start e-filing your return to the IRS
on Jan. 17. Also, the IRS offers Free File for taxpayers making up to $57,000. They can choose from about 20 tax preparer software programs to file your return.
Do-it-yourselfers who earn more might want to try Free File Fillable Forms, an electronic version of IRS forms that can be filled out and submitted online for free.
Or, if your income is up to $50,000, you can take advantage of the IRS' Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
program for free tax preparation.