By: John Hickman and Carolyn Smith, Alston & Bird LLP
The mission of FEMA is to support citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
The mission of the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP) is to provide disaster survivors with information, support, services, and a means to access and apply for disaster assistance through joint data-sharing efforts between federal, tribal, state, local, and private-sector partners. The DisasterAssistance.gov website allows you to:
The SBA offers low-interest, long-term disaster loans to small businesses, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters to repair or replace uninsured or underinsured disaster-damaged property. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. The SBA works alongside FEMA at Disaster and Business Recovery Centers, where disaster survivors are able to apply in person and get counseling on the next steps toward recovery.
For those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the SBA is also providing a 12-month deferment of principal and interest payments for SBA-serviced business and disaster loans that were in “regular servicing” status on August 25, 2017 in those primary counties designated as federal disaster areas.
Benefits.gov is the official benefits website of the U.S. government, with a mission to reduce the expense and difficulty of interaction with the government while increasing citizen access to benefit information. The website provides online access to information from 17 federal agencies.
Special tax relief and assistance is available to taxpayers in Presidential Disaster Areas. The IRS has provided information about special provisions for those impacted by natural disasters including Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. These include:
While disasters often pull us together as a community, they also bring out those who look to profit from the misfortune of others. Disaster-related scams include fly-by-night contractors, identity theft and fraudulent charities. Fraudulent scams relating to federal taxes are an ongoing concern.
Anti-fraud resources include:
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
United States Department of Justice
www.justice.gov/opa/pr/authorities-announce-formation-working-group-fight-hurricane-harveyrelated-illegal-activity. This link includes information about the Disaster Fraud Hotline, which is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The phone number is 1-866-720-5721. Members of the public can also fax information to 225-334-4707.
www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts. The IRS provides information relating to tax scams, including how to identify and how to report.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/08/wise-giving-wake-hurricane-harvey. The FTC provides information on how to help ensure donations are going to legitimate charities.
Find state-specific information by visiting your state’s Attorney General’s Office website.
We hope this information will be of assistance in dealing with the tragedy of natural disasters.
The information in this advisory is from the publicly available websites listed here. This advisory is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, tax, or other advice by Aflac or Alston & Bird LLP regar ding any particular situation.
Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York.