Tax Preparers Help Flood Victims - WSMV News 4

Tax Preparers Help Flood Victims

Updated: Jan. 8, 2011

There's a silver lining for flood victims; some could be getting tens of thousands of dollars in tax refunds. There's even free help available to prepare their returns.


Lisa Spangler lives in River Plantation, which was ground zero for some of the worst damage.


"In an hour, it was waist deep in my home and the rescue squad was banging on my door," Spangler said.


Like so many people, Spangler lost nearly everything in the flood. But she has a reason to smile. Her accountant got her a whopping tax refund.


Richard Winstead of Crosslin and Associates said tax laws allow people to amend their returns going back five years, meaning flood victims can maximize their disaster deductions and get lots of money back.


"We are seeing tens of thousands of dollars in tax money come back," Winstead said.

The forms are complicated and daunting -- more than a lot of people will want to tackle.

Spangler had some accounting classes but knew she wanted a professional tax preparer after she saw the forms.


"I printed them off and immediately became intimidated," Spangler said.


The good news is that twenty accounting firms in the greater middle Tennessee area are doing free tax returns for the first 100 flood victims who apply.


CPA Jim Wiseman came up with the idea after seeing the extent of the devastation and realizing people would need help with the paperwork. He predicted the refunds due to 12,000 flood families will have a huge economic benefit.


"It's not as fun as a Garth Brooks concert but it could have that kind of impact," Wiseman said.


Flood victims will need to gather receipts, any before and after pictures they may have, and detailed lists of what was lost.


Spangler said it's a painful process, reliving everything that she lost, but it had to be done.


Flood victims who want to meet with a tax preparer at no cost can contact the United Way at 211 to make an appointment.


Click here to visit the Legal Aid Society's website, a tax guide for 2010 flood victims.


Winstead said it's important for people to read all of the IRS's instructions.

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