NAPA (CBS SF) — California Franchise Tax Board officials said Tuesday that state tax relief is available to taxpayers affected by the South Napa earthquake last month.

President Barack Obama’s declaration of a major disaster following the 6.0-magnitude earthquake on Aug. 24 allows taxpayers affected by the quake to claim disaster losses in the 2013 or 2014 tax year.

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Typically, taxpayers must deduct losses only in the year of the loss (2014).

The advantage of claiming the loss in the prior year (2013) is that the loss will generally reduce that prior year’s tax liability, according to the Franchise Tax Board. The claim generally creates a refund the tax board can quickly issue.

Disaster victims who have not yet filed their 2013 tax return can claim their disaster loss on their original tax return.

Taxpayers who have already filed their 2013 tax return can claim a disaster loss against that year’s income by filing Form 580X, an Amended Individual Income Tax Return. Disaster victims have until April 15, 2015, to make their prior year (2013) disaster loss deduction.

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To get copies of lost or damaged state returns, people can file Form FTB 3516, a Request for Copy of Tax Return online or by writing “DISASTER-NAPA EARTHQUAKE 2014” in red ink across the top of the request.

A casualty loss occurs when a taxpayer’s property is lost or damaged from earthquake, fire, flood or a similar event that is sudden, unexpected or unusual.

Disaster victims usually qualify for a casualty loss tax deduction when insurance or other reimbursements do not cover the property damage.

More information is available online at ftb.ca.gov or irs.gov.

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