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August 17, 2004

Revenue Agency Provides Assistance to Taxpayers, Child Support Clients Affected by Hurricane Charley

The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) will work with taxpayers and child support clients affected by Hurricane Charley to help them meet their obligations under the law, DOR announced Tuesday. Many homes and places of employment have been damaged or destroyed, and citizens' and businesses' ability to pay may be impacted by loss of employment or ability to conduct business.

"Our sympathies go out to Florida businesses, individual taxpayers, and child support clients who have been affected by this devastating natural disaster," said Jim Zingale, executive director of DOR. "We will make every attempt allowed by law to work with taxpayers and child support clients during this difficult time."

DOR will use discretion provided by law to waive penalties and interest normally imposed for late filing and/or payment of state taxes and work with taxpayers affected by the storm on payment schedules. Since Florida imposes few state taxes directly on citizens, the waiver of penalty would primarily affect Florida businesses. If the business has been damaged or is unable to resume operations, various payment options are available.

DOR officials are preparing detailed information for the guidance of Florida businesses, tax preparers, and DOR's own employees. For more information, Florida businesses, their tax preparers, and individual taxpayers should watch the Department's Internet site at www.myflorida.com/dor or contact the Department's tax hotline at 1-800-352-3671 tollfree from anywhere nationally. For now, businesses, tax preparers, individual taxpayers and child support clients should follow the general guidelines below.

Tax-related matters:
  • Taxpayers who file tax returns and pay tax through electronic means should make a reasonable attempt to file using their customary methods. If filing and paying electronically is not possible because of the effects of Hurricane Charley, taxpayers should attempt to file using paper tax returns.
  • DOR will waive penalty and interest on request for taxpayers who cannot file tax returns or pay tax timely if taxpayers can demonstrate that business operations have been affected by the hurricane.
  • The Department will temporarily suspend the mailing of bills for nonpayment or late payment of tax to Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, and Polk Counties and will consider other impacted taxpayers on a case by case basis.
  • All GTA Service Centers will be open for business on Wednesday, August 18
Child Support issues:
  • Affected families are encouraged to contact the Department so we can work with them to reschedule court hearings or meeting appointments and to prevent enforcement actions that might be inappropriate for that family's situation. Ensuring that the Department has current address information is extremely important during this time of potential frequent movement to ensure support payments and notices of case action reach the family as quickly as possible.
  • For families in the area affected by Hurricane Charley who receive child support services from DOR, a temporary, direct telephone line has been established to report address changes or to request assistance. That number is (850)922-9722. This number can be used by custodial parents, noncustodial parents, or employers who have questions about a child support case or income deduction payments that they are required to make. In addition, the statewide toll-free number 1-800-622-5437 is available. However, call volume may cause some delays in getting through to this number.
  • DOR child support offices in Charlotte, DeSoto, and Highlands Counties remain closed pending restoration of power, and in some cases, repairs. All other Child Support Enforcement offices currently are open.
Property Tax questions:
  • The Department is receiving some inquiries from taxpayers asking for information about abatement of property tax for homes, businesses and other structures destroyed by Hurricane Charley. No state law currently provides for relief from property tax in such cases.
  • DOR will issue statements regarding possible delays in deadlines on issuing property tax notices of proposed property taxes and information on other property tax-related issues as more information becomes available.