What has unfortunately become more frequent in recent months in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Harvey, the IRS has published Announcement 2017-15, providing relief to taxpayers who have been affected by Hurricane Maria and the wildfires in California.
The announcement provides relief to those impacted by these natural disasters, allowing those individuals to make hardship distributions from certain qualified employer plans, including those that may not currently be drafted to permit hardship distributions. It also permits employers and employees some flexibility regarding verification procedures for the distributions and allows delays under the standard repayment schedules.
To make a loan or hardship distribution pursuant to the relief provided in this announcement, a qualified employer plan that does not provide for them must be amended to provide for loans or hardship distributions no later than the end of the first plan year beginning after Dec. 31, 2017.
To qualify for the relief under this announcement, a hardship distribution must be made on account of a hardship resulting from Hurricane Maria or the California wildfires and be made on or after the Incident Date and no later than March 15, 2018.
The areas identified for individual assistance by FEMA can be found on FEMA's website at https://www.fema.gov/disasters.