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Saturday October 20, 2018

Washington News

Washington Hotline

California Mudslide Relief

At 3:30 AM on January 9, an intense rainstorm dropped ½ inch of rain in five minutes just east of Santa Barbara, California. The hillsides north of Montecito had been cleared of most brush and trees by the record-breaking Thomas Fire in early December. With limited vegetation, the torrential downpour caused a flashflood of water, mud, rocks and debris to roar down Hot Springs Road.

The massive mudslide destroyed 65 homes, claimed 20 lives and closed Highway 101. CalTrans mounted a 24-hour effort using mud pumps, tank trucks and bulldozers to clear the road. Normally, Highway 101 is used by 14,000 daily commuters. CalTrans hopes to open the portion of the highway that remains closed to these commuters by January 23, 2018.

Jim Shivers, spokesman for CalTrans, stated, "It is not until you can see the damage with your own eyes that you can come to understand the magnitude of the incident, the response that is necessary, but most importantly the impact to the citizens and families of Santa Barbara County."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency declared the mudslide area a federal disaster zone. In CA-2018-1, the IRS announced tax relief for affected taxpayers.

Generally, all taxpayers who reside in the impacted areas with tax deadlines between December 4, 2017 and April 17, 2018 may extend their filings to the end of April. The normal April 17, 2018 filing date for income tax returns is extended to April 30, 2018.

Estimated tax payments normally due on January 16, 2018 may also be deferred until April 30 without penalty.

If taxpayers have businesses in the area and live outside the covered disaster zone, they may call the IRS at 866-562-5227 to request qualification for relief.

When filing their 2017 tax returns, affected taxpayers may obtain an expedited refund. On the top of the return, they should write "Disaster Designation, California, Wildfires, Flooding, Mudflows and Debris Flows."

Published January 19, 2018

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