News Releases

News Release

September 27, 2005 - Tax Relief Offered to Victims of Gulf Coast Hurricanes

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio is offering two programs of tax relief for those affected by recent hurricanes in the Gulf Coast. Ohio Tax Commissioner William W. Wilkins said today that Ohio taxpayers who suffered damages from either Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita can get a 45-day extension of time to file and pay Ohio taxes.  In addition, Wilkins says hurricane victims who make qualified purchases in Ohio using special debit cards issued by either the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the Red Cross will not have to pay Ohio sales tax in most instances.

Wilkins said the 45-day extension for Hurricane Katrina victims applies to any tax return or payment due to the Ohio Department of Taxation between August 28 and October 28. For Hurricane Rita victims the extension applies to returns or payments due between September 23 and November 23. The extensions are available for residents and businesses located along the Gulf coast in counties that have been declared a federal disaster area. Taxpayers filing a late tax return or making a late payment late should clearly state on the return and/or payment that the taxpayer was affected by Hurricane Katrina or Rita. (Please NOTE: this extension is issued pursuant to R.C. 5703.35 and interest on extended payments cannot be waived.)

Persons using a FEMA or Red Cross debit card in Ohio to purchase items for immediate emergency needs (i.e. qualified purchases) will not have to pay sales tax on those purchases. Qualified purchases do not include non-essential items like tobacco, alcohol, guns or jewelry. “As long as sufficient value remains on the card and the items purchased are qualified purchases for emergency needs, the vendor can accept the card as payment for goods and services without imposing Ohio sales tax,” Wilkins said.  Any purchases using cash, whether or not obtained from use of a FEMA or Red Cross debit card, is subject to Ohio sales tax (if the tax would otherwise apply to the purchase). In cases where purchases are more than the dollar amount remaining on the card, purchasers must pay sales tax on the overage amount. 

Ohio vendors are reminded to separate or otherwise identify in their records any sales made to persons using the debit cards on which no sales taxes were charged. 

Questions about the filing extension or the sales tax exemption can be answered via e-mail through the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) web site at or by calling the department toll free at 1-888-405-4039.

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For more information contact Gary Gudmundson, ODT communications director, at 614-644-6903.