Hurricane Harvey

Claiming a Casualty Loss on Federal Taxes

The Skinny on Determining/ Claiming Potential Casualty Loss

  • The loss is the change in the FMV prior to the flood and the FMV after the flood minus any reimbursements.
  • The loss is limited to the original cost basis
  • Total casualty loss will be decreased by $100 and 10% of the AGI
  • If the area is a Federally declared disaster area, there is a choice to amend 2016 by 04/16/2018 or Claim on the 2017 Return
  • Taxpayer must be able to Itemize to take the casualty loss deduction


  • Pictures 
  • Housing
    • Looking at the Structure only
    • Determining the Basis
      • Original Closing Documents
      • Parish Clerk of Court to obtain the records
      • Cost of Any Improvements prior to the Flood 
        • Receipts  
        • Contact the contractor or vendor to provide the cost
  • Fair Market Value Prior  
    • Appraisal from a Qualified Appraiser (our recommendation)
    • Typically, an appraisal or comps from the area can be obtained
    • Use the most recent property tax bill
  • Fair Market Value After
    • Appraisal from Qualified Appraiser (our recommendation)   
    • Maintain receipts for the restoration of the property
      • The repairs should restore the property to the condition prior to the flood.  
      • The cost of the repairs should not be excessive
  • Contents
    • Pictures
    • Make a detailed list of the contents lost
    • For each item, estimate the purchase date
    • For each item, estimate the cost
    • For each item, provide the FMV prior to the flood
      • Can be done utilizing eBay, Classified Ads, Amazon, etc.
      • Donation Valuation Guides such as the Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc.
    • The after FMV will be 0
  • Automobiles
    • Pictures
    • For each automobile, estimate the purchase date
    • For each automobile, estimate the cost
    • For each automobile, FMV prior to the flood
      • Can be done utilizing Kelly Blue Book, True Car, etc.
    • The after FMV will be 0

FEMA Grants/Insurance Reimbursements/ Other Assistance

  • FEMA Grants, Insurance Reimbursements and any other disaster specific relief will offset the casualty loss.  
  • To determine the amount of assistance received  
    • Letter from FEMA  
    • Statement of Loss/Payment Worksheet from the Insurance Company
    • Statements and/or Letters for any other assistance received

Please note these are general guidelines pertaining to claiming a casualty loss on your Federal return. The information contained in the general guidelines is based on current regulations and is subject to change without prior notification.