updated 6/19/2006 6:30:56 PM ET 2006-06-19T22:30:56

Taxpayers still cleaning up from last summer's hurricanes got some help from the IRS on Monday with their tax deadlines and loss calculations.

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People hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina can take extra time to file their tax returns, the IRS announced.

The tax agency also gave taxpayers in the path of last summer's destructive hurricanes some alternative ways to compute their damages when claiming losses on their tax returns.

President Bush has already enacted special laws allowing taxpayers to recoup more of their unreimbursed and uninsured losses caused by the storms.

The deadline change gives taxpayers hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina an extra seven weeks to file their 2005 tax returns. They now have until Oct. 15 to file that paperwork.

Taxpayers who need additional time can apply for an automatic six-month extension, which would give them until April 15, 2007, to file. The new deadline also applies to people who had requested an extension of time to file their 2004 tax returns.

Taxpayers hit by Hurricane Katrina already had a specially extended deadline that had given them until Aug. 28 to file tax returns that were due April 17 for most people.

The IRS also gave taxpayers some new methods for estimating damages to their homes and personal property, so they can use laws that allow taxpayers to recover some losses not reimbursed by insurance. The changes do not apply to taxpayers whose businesses or rental properties were damaged.

They're designed to help people who may have lost necessary records or can't otherwise meet the requirements for proving their losses to the IRS.

The changes give taxpayers hurt by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma several optional methods for calculating how much damage their homes and property sustained. They can be used instead of the methods already permitted, such as an appraisal.

The IRS said it will accept calculations made by an insurance company or a contractor. It also provided mathematical formulas for estimating the cost of damage done to homes. The formulas vary according to the size of a house and the extent of damage done.

The IRS gave taxpayers an additional formula for estimating the damage done to personal property, excluding vehicles.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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