The IRS has announced a tax relief package for taxpayers in Louisiana who are affected by the intrusion of a mass of seawater from the Gulf of Mexico that has been steadily forcing its way up the Mississippi River and threatening drinking water.
People who live or run a business in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, or St. Bernard parishes qualify for the relief, which covers various filing and payment deadlines.
"As a result of the historic drought throughout the Mississippi River Valley, the rate of freshwater flowing down the Mississippi River has been dramatically low, allowing an intrusion of saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to make its way upriver," Mr. Edwards said.
He said that Plaquemines Parish was already being affected by the intrusion, while other parishes—St. Bernard, Jefferson, and Orleans—are projected to be affected over the next month.
The IRS's tax relief initiative covers tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred from Sept. 20, 2023, through Feb. 15, 2024.
Deadlines ExtendedThe IRS said that the extension—generally until Feb. 15, 2024—provides some breathing room for those struggling in the aftermath of the saltwater intrusion.
People who had a valid extension to file their 2022 return, which was due to expire on Oct. 16, 2023, are now granted an extension until Feb. 15, 2024. However, the IRS noted that this extension applies only to filing and not to tax payments related to those 2022 returns, which were due on April 18, 2023.
Also, quarterly estimated income tax payments that were normally due on Jan. 16, 2024, are now also extended until Feb. 15, 2024. The same extension applies to quarterly payroll and excise tax returns, which were originally due on Oct. 31, 2023, and Jan. 31, 2024, respectively.
Calendar-year corporations with extensions expiring on Oct. 16, 2023, and calendar-year, tax-exempt organizations with extensions expiring on Nov. 15, 2023, are also eligible for this relief.
Additionally, penalties for the failure to make payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Sept. 20, 2023, and before Oct. 5, 2023, will be abated provided the deposits are made by Oct. 5, 2023.
Affected taxpayers located within the disaster area will receive automatic filing and penalty relief and are not required to contact the IRS separately.
Some affected taxpayers who do not have an IRS address of record in the disaster area could receive late filing or late payment penalty notices from the IRS. In such cases, taxpayers should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.
Salt Threatens Drinking Water SupplyNormally, freshwater flows downriver along the Mississippi River and pushes against the salty water in the Gulf of Mexico, keeping it at bay.
But historically low rainwater in the Mississippi River basin has led to a drought, hampering the river's ability to prevent salty water from intruding, posing a risk to drinking water supplies.
Mr. Edwards has urged residents not to panic, noting that various efforts were underway to mitigate the effects of the saltwater wedge.
The U.S. Army Corps is working to increase the height of an existing underwater levee, and drinking water is being brought in by barge to affected residents in parts of the state.
Initially, there were plans to barge in 15 million gallons of water over the course of the first week of deliveries. Plans are now to increase that to as much as 36 million gallons per day.