The IRS has released final regulation on the election to take a loss resulting from a federally declared disaster in the year preceding the disaster. The final regulations adopt proposed regulations substantially without change.

Disaster Defined
The regulations provide definitions of:

  • federally declared disaster;
  • federally declared disaster area;
  • disaster loss;
  • disaster year; and
  • preceding year.

Scope and Effect of Election
The election for a disaster loss attributable to a particular disaster applies to the entire loss sustained by the taxpayer from that disaster during the disaster year.

Making or Revoking Election
A taxpayer elects to deduct a disaster loss for the preceding year on:

  • an original federal income tax return for the preceding year; or
  • an amended federal income tax return for the preceding year.

The election is made in the manner specified by guidance issued pursuant to the regulations.

A taxpayer may not to take a disaster loss in the preceding year if the taxpayer claims a deduction (as a loss, as cost of goods sold, or otherwise) for the same loss for the disaster year.

If a taxpayer has claimed a deduction for a disaster loss for the disaster year and wants to elect the loss for the preceding year, the taxpayer must file an amended federal income tax return to remove the previously deducted loss on or before the date that the taxpayer makes the election for the preceding year loss.

If a taxpayer has claimed a deduction for a disaster loss for the preceding year and wants to revoke that election, the taxpayer must file an amended federal income tax return to remove the loss for the preceding year on or before the date the taxpayer files the federal income tax return or the amended federal income tax return for the disaster year that includes the loss.

Due Dates
The due date for making the election to deduct a disaster loss in the preceding year is six months after the due date for filing the taxpayer’s federal income tax return for the disaster year (determined without regard to any extension of time to file).

Subject to the final regulation requirements, a taxpayer may revoke the election on or before the date that is 90 days after the due date for making the election.

Applicability Date
The final regulations apply to elections and revocations that are made on or after the date they are published in the Federal Register.