Triangle Troubleshooter

Troubleshooter: IRS, landlords and insurers may assist

Staff WriterApril 21, 2011 

This week, state and private agencies have came forward with helpful delays and information for victims of Saturday's severe weather that destroyed hundreds of homes in North Carolina and killed 24 people.

Tax returns

Tax collectors are providing a break for Saturday's storm victims who had not filed their 2010 returns.

The state Revenue Department said this week it will waive late filing payment penalties until May for people and businesses unable to file their return or pay their taxes because of the storms.

State law prevents the agency from waiving any interest assessed on overdue taxes, so the clock keeps ticking on that until payment, according to a Department of Revenue news release.

Taxpayers must file an additional NC-5500 form with their late payment or return to explain the tardiness. Before you try to take advantage of that - if you were not affected by the storms but are just late paying your taxes - note that auditors will be looking for discrepancies and will assess a late payment.

Victims who live or have a business in the federal disaster area - Bertie, Bladen, Cumberland, Halifax, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Onslow, Wake and Wilson counties - may qualify for federal tax relief.

The Internal Revenue Service is postponing until June 30 certain deadlines for taxpayers who live or have a business in the disaster area - including the April 18 deadline for filing 2010 individual income tax returns, making income tax payments and making 2010 contributions to an individual retirement account (IRA).

Have questions about tax-relief deadlines? Call the IRS disaster hotline at 1-866-562-5227.

Housing

The N.C. Housing Finance Agency and the N.C. Division of Emergency Management want all landlords and property managers to list available rental housing on the statewide housing locator www.NCHousingSearch.org.

NCHousingSearch is a nonprofit service that is free for people who are listing or searching for housing.

To list available housing, landlords can log on to www.NCHousingSearch.org and go to "list housing" or call 1-877-428-8844.

North Carolinians who have been displaced from their homes and need housing should go to www.NCHousingSearch.org or call 1-877-428-8844.

Insurance mediation

Homeowners whose insurance claims have been denied for damage caused by the storms, tornadoes and flooding may be eligible for the Disaster Mediation Program through the state's Department of Insurance.

Residents in the following counties may request the service: Bertie, Bladen, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Onslow, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Wake and Wilson.

Homeowners must have a disputed claim for at least $1,500 that the insurer has denied. Disputed claims do not include claims denied because of policy exclusions, terms or conditions, or because the policy was not in force at the time of loss.

Mediation is free, and requests for mediation must be made within 60 days from the date the claim was denied. Homeowners should notify their insurance company of the request. For more information, visit www.ncdoi.com.

Health insurance

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina extended premium payment deadlines and made it easier for members to get prescriptions in counties affected by the storms.

Members and employers in those counties will get an additional 30 days to pay their premiums, according to a news release. Members in those areas will also get an early prescription refill or replace a lost or destroyed prescription by making a request at any participating pharmacy.

As required by state statute, BCBSNC will provide an extension for other deadlines or requirements in the first 30 days after the storm, such as submission of claims, filing appeals of denied claims, requests for authorization of medical services and adding new babies and adopted children to a medical policy.

Questions about these waivers? Call the number on the back of your BCBSNC card.

Food Bank challenge

If you donate $100 to the Food Bank for disaster relief, you can be entered in the drawing to have lunch with our sports columnists Luke DeCock, J.P. Giglio and Caulton Tudor.

For a $100 donation, your name will be entered into a drawing for lunch. To increase your odds, donate more. Your name will be entered once for every $100 you donate. Give $300, and get three entries. Give $1,000, and get 10 entries.

Three winners will be selected to have lunch at The Raleigh Times on a mutually agreed upon date.

To donate, visit www.foodbank cenc.org and click on NC Tornadoes 2011; or mail a check to or drop off one at the Food Bank at 3808 Tarheel Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609.

Then email troubleshooter@newsobserver.com with your name, the amount donated and your phone number to enter the drawing, which will be held April 29. Get donations in by 5 p.m. April 28.

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