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WASHINGTON – Victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita or Wilma wishing to claim disaster-related losses on their prior year federal income tax return will now have until October 16, 2006, to make this choice, the Internal Revenue Service announced Feb. 14. Taxpayers suffering disaster-related losses in certain areas of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas due to the hurricanes can choose to claim those losses on their current or prior year return. The original deadline for choosing this option is the due date of the taxpayer’s current year return. Individuals wishing to claim disaster-related losses on their 2004 federal income tax return instead of their 2005 return will have an extra six months to make this choice. The original deadline for individuals choosing this option was April 17, 2006, according to the IRS. The new deadline does not affect the regular tax-filing deadlines for either 2004 or 2005 federal income tax returns, the agency said. An explanation of the liberalized disaster loss rules and special instructions for claiming these losses can be found in Publication 4492, Information for Taxpayers Affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.

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