Assistance with Hurricane Sandy

Posted on November 15th, 2012

FEMA INFORMATION IF YOUR HOME OR
BUSINESS HAS BEEN FLOODED

December 17, 2012

Friends,

FEMA has issued important information to help you build back safer and stronger.

Flood Insurance Changes Might Affect You

As risks change, insurance premiums also change to reflect those risks. Your flood insurance premiums may be going up.  However, you may be able to reduce your premium if you build your home or business to be safer, higher, and stronger.

The Biggert-Waters National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 provides long-term changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. Under the new law, rates are likely to increase overall to reflect the true flood risk of your home and many insurance discounts will be eliminated.

For example, rates for certain secondary homes in high-risk areas will increase 25 percent per year over the next 4 years starting in 2013.  Policy rates for all properties could increase based on one or all of the following circumstances:

  • Change of ownership
  • Lapse in coverage
  • Change in risk
  • Substantial damage or improvement to a building

Some changes will depend on external factors such as when flood risk maps are revised, buildings are damaged or improved, or when flood claims are filed. Talk with your community officials and insurance agent to see how these changes could affect you.

Manage Your Future Risk

If your home or business was damaged or destroyed by a flood, you face major decisions about your property. Do you repair? Do you rebuild? Do you relocate?

The decisions you make now can help provide a safer, stronger future for you and your family. If you decide to repair or rebuild, here are some points to consider:

The risk you faced yesterday might not be the same risk you face today or in the future.  By rebuilding higher, you can reduce – or perhaps avoid – future flood loss and reduce the impact on your finances.  The financial consequences of not having flood insurance coverage could be devastating if another flood occurs.

Reduce Your Risk, Reduce Your Premium

A primary way to reduce or avoid future flood losses is to raise your building above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) . By building above the BFE, you could reduce your flood insurance premium by 85 percent or more- and save thousands of dollars over the life of your home or business. It is important to understand the long-term costs and benefits when considering your options for repairing, rebuilding, or relocating.

Insurance Considerations:

  • How elevating your home or business can help reduce your rates
  • Future premium increases for all homes and businesses
  • Options for insuring your building and its contents
  • Changes in rates for secondary homes
  • Other circumstances that could increase your rates

Building Considerations:

  • Meeting building code requirements and current best practices
  • Revised Flood Insurance Rate Maps and advisory flood risk products
  • Hazard mitigation grant programs
  • Other grant programs and loans to help rebuild or acquire your home or business

Under the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, You Could Save More than $90,000 over 10 Years if You Build 3 Feet above Base Flood Elevation.

For additional information, please contact our attorneys Joshua S. Bauchner, at (973) 247-9000, or Michael H. Ansell, at (732) 922-1000.  We wish you the best, and please be safe.

Sincerely,

Ansell Grimm & Aaron, P.C.

* * * * 

IRS TAX RELIEF FOR INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES

November 30, 2010

Friends,

The Internal Revenue Service has advised that victims of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service.

The President has declared Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties a federal disaster area. Individuals who reside or have a business in these counties may qualify for tax relief.

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Oct. 26, and on or before Feb. 1, have been postponed to Feb. 1, 2013.

In addition, the IRS is waiving the failure-to-deposit penalties for employment and excise tax deposits due on or after Oct. 26, and on or before Nov. 26, as long as the deposits are made by Nov. 26,2012.

If an affected taxpayer receives a penalty notice from the IRS, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate any interest and any late filing or late payment penalties that would otherwise apply. Penalties or interest will be abated only for taxpayers who have an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date, including an extended filing or payment due date, that falls within the postponement period.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area need to call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.

For a full description of the relief being provided by the IRS to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, visit IRS.gov.

Covered Disaster Area

The counties above constitute a covered disaster area for purposes of Treas. Reg.§ 301.7508A-1(d) (2) and are entitled to the relief detailed below.

Affected Taxpayers

Taxpayers considered to be affected taxpayers eligible for the postponement of time to file returns, pay taxes and perform other time-sensitive acts are those taxpayers listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(1), and include individuals who live, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster area. Taxpayers not in the covered disaster area, but whose records necessary to meet a deadline listed in Treas. Reg.§ 301.7508A-1(c) are in the covered disaster area, are also entitled to relief. In addition, all relief workers affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization assisting in the relief activities in the covered disaster area and any individual visiting the covered disaster area who was killed or injured as a result of the disaster are entitled to relief.

Grant of Relief

Under section 7508A, the IRS gives affected taxpayers until Feb. 1 to file most tax returns (including individual, corporate, and estate and trust income tax returns; partnership returns, S corporation returns, and trust returns; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax returns; and employment and certain excise tax returns), or to make tax payments, including estimated tax payments, that have either an original or extended due date occurring on or after Oct. 26 and on or before Feb. 1.

The IRS also gives affected taxpayers until Feb. 1 to perform other time-sensitive actions described in Treas. Reg.§ 301.7508A-1(c)(1) and Rev. Proc. 2007-56, 2007-341.R.B. 388 (Aug. 20, 2007), that are due to be performed on or after Oct. 26 and on or before Feb. 1.

This relief also includes the filing of Form 5500 series returns, in the manner described in section 8 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56.  The relief described in section 17 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56, pertaining to like­ kind exchanges of property, also applies to certain taxpayers who are not otherwise affected taxpayers and may include acts required to be performed before or after the period above.

The postponement of time to file and pay does not apply to information returns in the W-2, 1098, 1099 series, or to Forms 1042-S or 8027. Penalties for failure to timely file information returns can be waived under existing procedures for reasonable cause. Likewise, the postponement does not apply to employment and excise tax deposits. The IRS, however, will abate penalties for failure to make timely employment and excise tax deposits due on or after Oct. 26 and on or before Nov. 26 provided the taxpayer makes these deposits by Nov. 26.

Casualty Losses

Affected taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area have the option of claiming disaster-related casualty losses on their federal income tax return for either this year or last year. Claiming the loss on an original or amended return for last year will get the taxpayer an earlier refund, but waiting to claim the loss on this year’s return could result in a greater tax saving, depending on other income factors.

Individuals may deduct personal property losses that are not covered by insurance or other reimbursements. For details, see Form 4684 and its instructions.

Affected taxpayers claiming the disaster loss on last year’s return should put the Disaster Designation “New Jersey/Hurricane Sandy” at the top of the form so that the IRS can expedite the processing of the refund.

Other Relief

The IRS will waive the usual fees and expedite requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for affected taxpayers. Taxpayers should put the assigned Disaster Designation in red ink at the top of Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, as appropriate, and submit it to the IRS.

Affected taxpayers who are contacted by the IRS on a collection or examination matter should explain how the disaster impacts them so that the IRS can provide appropriate consideration to their case.

Taxpayers may download forms and publications from the official IRS website, www.irs.gov, or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). The IRS toll-free number for general tax questions is 800-829-1040.

Sincerely,

Ansell Grimm & Aaron, P.C.

* * * * 

PROPERTY TAX RELIEF

November 21, 2012

Friends,

Clearly, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy has had a profound effect on numerous aspects of our everyday lives.  One of these aspects is property taxes.  Property owners who have sustained property damage, or even business losses, should be aware of the potential for property tax relief provided for by applicable New Jersey law.  In this regard, below is the relevant statute governing the potential effect on real estate tax assessments as it relates to properties damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  This statutory authority gives the Municipal Tax Assessor the right (and arguably the obligation) to reduce the tax assessments of properties damaged by the storm WITHOUT THE NECESSITY OF FILING A TAX APPEAL.  However,  the onus is on the property owner to provide written notice of same to the Municipal Tax Assessor by no later than January 10 (and we would strongly recommend that that notice be given sooner rather than later):

N.J.S.A. 54:4-35.1. Material depreciation of structure between October 1 and January 1; determination of value

When any parcel of real property contains any building or other structure which has been destroyed, consumed by fire, demolished, or altered in such a way that its value has materially depreciated, either intentionally or by the action of storm, fire, cyclone, tornado, or earthquake, or other casualty, which depreciation of value occurred after October first in any year and before January first of the following year, the assessor shall, upon notice thereof being given to the Assessor by (or on behalf of) the property owner prior to January tenth of said year, and after examination and inquiry, determine the value of such parcel of real property as of said January first, and assess the same according to such value.

The major significance of the above statute is that whereas the tax assessment on a given property is normally based on the value of that property as it existed on October 1 of the pre-tax year (in this case, October 1, 2012), under these extraordinary circumstances, the 2013 tax assessment should be based on the value of the property as it exists on January 1, 2013 (i.e., “post” storm damage).  Of course, this will be significant for many property owners and, to the extent the Assessor either i) refuses to make a reduction in the assessment, or ii) grants an insufficient reduction, either of those determinations will be appealable through the filing of a regular assessment appeal.  Such appeals typically must be filed on or before April 1, 2013.

It is important for any property owner who has suffered significant damage to write or email your assessor and let them know your name, address, block and lot, and the existence of damages suffered due to this storm. You should do this as soon as possible but no later than Jan. 10, 2013.  To aid taxpayers in this process Monmouth County has established a “Disaster Recovery Portal” where taxpayers may submit their request for inspection. The website is found on the County’s Open Public Records website:  http://oprs.co.monmouth.nj.us/oprs/index.aspx.

If you will complete repairs by Jan. 1, 2013, you do not need to contact the assessor, as no adjustment should be made under such a circumstance.  However, if you will continue to have a significantly damaged property beyond Jan. 1, you should submit notice to your assessor.  Residents should bear in mind that any property receiving a damage adjustment will be subject to an added assessment once the repairs are completed.”

Should you have any questions or desire further information about property tax issues, please feel free to contact our attorneys Rick Brodsky or Fred Raffetto at (732) 922-1000.

Sincerely,

Ansell Grimm & Aaron, P.C.

* * * * 

CRITICAL INFORMATION IN THE AFTERMATH OF SANDY

November 15, 2012

Friends,

As a member of the Monmouth County community for nearly a century, we at Ansell Grimm & Aaron, P.C. are acutely aware of the great and ongoing loss caused by Hurricane Sandy.  The past two weeks have been extraordinarily challenging — many in our community suffered catastrophic loss and simply do not know where to turn.  We hope to provide some initial guidance below.

First, in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) and the Small Business Association (“SBA”), we will be participating in Town Hall meetings to provide essential information geared toward recovery:

Wednesday, November 14, 102 at 6:00pm
Springwood Center1201 Springwood Avenue in Asbury Park
(limited Internet access will be provided to permit attendees to register/file applications)

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 1:00pm
Springwood Center1201 Springwood Avenue in Asbury Park
(limited Internet access will be provided to permit attendees to register/file applications)

Ansell Grimm & Aaron representatives will be on hand to assist in answering questions.

Second, filing insurance claims can be a difficult and daunting task.  Please consider these quick tips before proceeding with your carrier:

  • DO give immediate notice of any claim to your insurance company.
  • DO NOT identify the cause of the loss to the insurance company — i.e., flooding, wind, fire — as that may impact on coverage.
  • DO carefully review your policy.  If you are a commercial tenant, you may be paying for flood insurance through your CAM charges.
  • DO create a log of all contact with the insurer and keep copies of all communications.
  • DO document the loss with photographs, videos and notes, and preserve the area to permit inspection.
  • DO NOT sign anything without careful review and, where necessary, in consultation with a legal representative.
  • DO proceed safely.  If your property is hazardous, stay clear.

Finally, Ansell Grimm & Aaron attorneys have been in contact with federal and state agencies to collect helpful, critical information.  Click on the links below for further information.

For additional information, please contact our attorneys Joshua S. Bauchner, at (973) 247-9000, or Michael H. Ansell, at (732) 922-1000.  We wish you the best, and please be safe.

Sincerely,

Ansell Grimm & Aaron, P.C.

 

The above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  Transmission of the materials and information contained herein is not intended to create, and receipt thereof does not constitute formation of, an attorney-client relationship.