Best wishes to Frenchtown’s new Mayor Warren Cooper

Congratulations to Frenchtown’s new Mayor Warren Cooper.

I was honored to be asked by Warren, a good friend,  to administer the Oath of Office.

Congratulations as well to Brad Myhre and Seth Grossman who were sworn in to new terms on the Borough Council.

Our best wishes for success to those who govern Frenchtown and to the citizens of this great community.

The photo is courtesy of the Hunterdon County Democrat.  More photos and an on-line story is at:

http://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/index.ssf/2012/01/post_522.html

Gaetano M. De Sapio

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Tax deductions for Hurricane Irene losses

If you have been effected by Hurricane Irene, or the rains of this week, the last thing you probably want to think about is taxes.  You want to get back into your house, repair all the water and wind damage, replace your personal property, and get back to work.

However, if you do not have money to pay for those things and have not received guarantees from your insurance company or FEMA that you will receive the money to cover your losses, you need to think about how you might get some of the money from a tax refund or by paying lower taxes for the year 2011. 

You can claim your tax deduction on next year’s tax return or you are permitted to amend the tax returned you filed April 15th of this year and claim the deduction on last year’s return and get money even more quickly!

The IRS states:

______________________________________________________________

 IRS Disaster Assistance

Federally Declared Disaster Area

You may deduct the loss or partial loss of your home, household goods, and motor vehicles from disaster damage on your individual federal income tax return. If you paid taxes in the tax year immediately preceding the tax year in which the disaster occurred, you can choose to deduct your loss on a Form 1040X (Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) for the prior year instead of waiting to file your current year return. This will allow you to receive a refund of some or all of the taxes paid on your prior year return.

What this means to you…

• If you filed a federal income tax return in the preceding tax year and paid federal taxes …

o You may be able to file an amended return now (or wait until next year) to claim your loss and receive a refund of the amount of taxes paid.

o You need to itemize using Form 1040 Schedule A.

To claim your losses…

• Make a list of everything you owned and lost

• Determine its original cost (or adjusted basis)

• Determine the fair market value of each item

o This is the amount it could have been sold for just before the disaster

• Determine the present value – after the disaster

• Determine insurance or other reimbursements you received or expect to receive

To take advantage of casualty losses and to assist you through this

process…

• Get Publication 2194, Disaster Loss Kit for individuals or Publication 2194-B Disaster Loss Kit for businesses.

• Get computer generated copies of your last year’s tax return from the IRS.

• IRS can assist with preparing your amended tax returns.

For additional information and assistance…

• IRS Disaster Assistance Hotline – 1-866-562-5227 (Monday – Friday from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm local time), *Please have your own interpreter, if needed, when calling the Hotline number”

• Visit the website at http://www.irs.gov or Contact your tax professional”

_________________________________________________________________

 So where do you start?  To get a downloadable copy of IRS Publication 2194 immediately go to www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p2194.pdf

The most important thing is to document, document, document.  Take pictures, make lists of what you have to throw out and replace.

The IRS has created checklists to help you think of the types of items that may been destroyed or damaged.  You can get a downloadable copy of IRS Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster  and Theft Loss Workbook that contains the checklists at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p584.pdf. 

If you need assistance and don’t already have a tax professional, make an appointment with Guy De Sapio who can help you with the process

 Gaetano M. De Sapio, Esq.

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Money available to cover uninsured Hurricance Irene damages

President Obama has signed an Executive Order allowing all residents of New Jersey to apply for Federal assistance to cover losses due to Hurricane Irene.  These includes all sorts of loses for which you might not have insurance.  You could qualify for a Grant that you do not have to repay or a low interest loan. Be sure to check this out. 

Assistance for Affected Individuals and Families Can Include as Required:

  •  Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable.  Initial assistance may be provided for two months for homeowners and renters.  Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements.  (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
  • Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.  (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
  • Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs.   (Source: FEMA funded at 75 percent of total eligible costs; 25 percent funded by the state.)
  • Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks from the date of the disaster declaration for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals.  (Source: FEMA funded; state administered.)
  • Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance.  Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses.  Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance.  (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
  • Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact.  This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
  • Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence.  (Source: Farm Service Agency, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.)
  • Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans benefits and social security matters.

http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=57559

To start the process go to the website  DiasterAssitance.gov http://www.disasterassistance.gov/home

There you can register and complete a questionnaire to determine which of your losses can be covered.  This could provide you with financial relief and help remove some of the stress.

If you want to register and obtain information by telephone you can call: 

Register by phone at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for those with hearing or speech impairments. Specialists are standing by at the toll-free numbers seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, until further notice. Help in other languages is available. Or you can register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.You can also apply through a web-enabled mobile device or smartphone by visiting m.fema.gov and following the link to “apply online for federal assistance.”

If you have problems or questions, we, at De Sapio Law Office, are available to help.

Best wishes.

Gaetano M. De Sapio, Esq.

Posted in Current Events of Local Interest, Financial Assistance, Free Information, Hurricane Irene, Insurance Law, Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some resources for Hunterdon Hurricane Irene victims

The Hunterdon County Office of Emergency Management http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/oem.htm advises:

Advisory: Shower facilities available for those without power at the Hunterdon Health and Wellness Centers in Clinton and Whitehouse.

The Hunterdon Health and Wellness Centers are offering their facilities to residents without power, as a place to shower. Residents must bring the following items:

– a valid driver’s license
– shampoo, soap, towels

Hours of operation are as follows:
Monday through Thursday: 5AM – 10PM
Friday: 5AM-9PM
Saturday: 7AM-5PM
Sunday: 8AM-4PM

Advisory: The NJ Dept of Health & Senior Services has opened a toll free health call center for flood health questions. 1-866-234-0964.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has opened a toll-free Public Health Call Center to provide information about prevention and treatment of mold, disposal of spoiled food due to power outages and water concerns.

Health experts are available at 1-866-234-0964.

The call center will operate from 8 AM to 8 PM Monday through Friday and during the weekend and Labor Day Monday from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Information is also available from the Hunterdon County Department of Health website at http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/health.htm

Gaetano M. De Sapio, Esq.

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Do I have insurance to cover my Hurricane Irene damages?

Does your insurance cover hurricane/flood damage?

Many people are shocked to find that their homeowner’s insurance company is telling them they have no coverage for the flooding damage to their home.  This is hard to understand and accept.

You find that your home is filled with water. The house, the furniture, and much of your personal property is destroyed.  It will cost thousands of dollars to repair the home and replace your valuables. 

Whether your insurance will cover the loss depends on:

1 – how the water entered your home; and,

2 –  what kind of insurance policy you purchased.

There are basically two types of insurance that homeowners can purchase:

                a – a standard homeowner’s policy with, or without special riders

                b – a flood insurance policy

The standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not pay for flood damage.  Common examples of flood damage include:

  • A nearby river overflows its banks and washes into your home.
  • A heavy rain seeps into your basement because the soil can’t absorb the water quickly enough
  • A heavy rain or flash flood causes the hill behind your house to collapse into a mud slide that oozes into your home.

Flood damage will only be covered if you have a FLOOD INSURANCE POLICY.

The standard homeowner’s policy will cover many types of water damage to your home – generally if the water comes in before it has contact with the ground.  Some examples might be:

  • A hailstorm smashes your window, permitting hail and rain free access into your home.
  • A heavy rain soaks through the roof, allowing water to drip through your attic or ceiling.
  • A broken water pipe spews water into your home.

There are always exceptions and matters of interpretation that an attorney can help you with.  For example, losses from theft, fire, or explosion resulting from flood damage can be covered.  If a flood damages your home and looters steal some of your furnishings after you evacuate, the theft could be covered by your homeowners.

If you suffered from the recent hurricane and are not satisfied with what your insurance company is telling you, we will meet with you for a free consultation on whether the company’s interpretation could be challenged.  Whatever you do, document your losses.  Make a complete list. Take as many pictures as possible.  Write and keep a log of what happened and when.

For more information on insurance coverages you may want to read the following brochure issued by the New Jersey Department of Insurance. 

www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/pdf/insuringyourhome.pdf  

If you suffered flood losses now, but did not have flood insurance, you should consider getting it for the future. 

There also may be FEMA (Federal Emergency Management) monies available to cover some of your uninsured losses if President Obama signs a declaration to that effect.

Gaetano M. De Sapio, Esq.

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Frenchtown Union Fire Company can help pump flooded homes

According to the Hunterdon County Democrat, the Frenchtown Union Fire Company can help pump your flooded home.  Thank you to those local volunteers.   See article below.

http://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/index.ssf/2011/08/frenchtown_union_fire_company.html

Gaetano M. De Sapio

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Scam artists posing as contractors

According to NJ.com the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office and JCP&L have both reported scam artists impersonating contactors to do Hurricane Irene repair work.  Be careful.  Check references and identification and call local police  if there are questions before you give someone a deposit.  If we can help with any problems give  Michael, Aaron, or Guy a call. See article below.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/08/hunterdon_county_officials_rep.html

Gaetano M. De Sapio, Esq.

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