These last few weeks have proven to be difficult for many of you, our clients, and we wanted to answer some questions that you may have. For some of you, the road to recovery will be a long one, but please know that you and your families are in our thoughts and prayers.
We have worked together to create a guide below to answer some of your questions. Please know that we are here to help you.
One thing I am so thankful for, is how we can come together to lend a helping hand to those in need.
Kaye E. Gohlke, CPA
Internal Revenue Service
- The IRS is providing tax relief and assistance for victims of Hurricane Harvey
What is FEMA?
- FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency. When the President of the United States makes a Declaration of Disaster, which has happened for most areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, FEMA administers disaster relief efforts including providing assistance to individuals and business owners who sustained damage and losses.
Should I apply for assistance?
- If you have sustained damage or loss because of Hurricane Harvey, you should apply for assistance
- File for FEMA assistance even if you don't think you need it at this time
- This can help document your damage in case you later need FEMA help
How do I apply for assistance?
- Registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov is the quickest way to register for FEMA assistance
- FEMA has also established a specific site for Hurricane Harvey information at www.fema.gov/hurricane-harvey
- You can also use the FEMA mobile app, which can be downloaded at www.fema.gov/mobile-app
- If you are unable to access the internet, you can also call 1-800-621-3362
What information do I need to apply for assistance?
- Social security number
- Current and pre-disaster addresses
- Telephone number
- Insurance information
- Household income
- Routing and account number from bank for direct deposit of disaster assistance funds
Which counties have been designated eligible for individuals to receive assistance from FEMA?
FEMA also provides resources for people with disabilities, access and functional needs
Avoiding Home Repair Fraud
Get several bids.
- Try to get written bids or estimates from at least three different contractors
Check out the contractor.
- Get the contractor's full name, address and phone number
- Ask for references and call them
- Check with the Better Business Bureau and courthouse for criminal history and civil cases against the contractor
- Be careful when dealing with contractors who have out-of-state license plates
Get it in writing.
- Get a written contract
- Specify the work to be done
- Specify the price
- Don't sign anything you don't understand
Control the money.
- Do not pay for the entire job up front -Try to pay as little as possible up front -It is against the law for contractors in disaster areas to take any money up front unless they have had a local office in your county or one county over for at least one year -Insist on waiting to pay the full amount until after the work is finished
- You are protected by special rules if the contractor does not have a local office in your county or the next county over
- Do not make the final payment until you have inspected the work. Make sure you are completely satisfied with the repairs
- Do not pay in cash
Report bad contractors to:
- Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org
- Texas Attorney General www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cpd/home-remodelingand-repair and 1-800-621-0508
- the local district attorney
- American Red Cross
- Register as safe and well safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/
- Find a shelter www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recoveryservices/find-an-open-shelter
- State Bar of Texas legal hotline: 1-800-504-7030
- Lone Star Legal Aid: www.lonestarlegal.org
- Houston Volunteer Lawyers: www.makejusticehappen.org or 713-228-0735
- Legal Services Corporation: https://www.lsc.gov/what-legal-aid/find-legal-aid
Help with price gouging and scams
- Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Toll-Free Hotline: 1-800-621-0505
- What is GAP Insurance and how can it help?
- Click here for information regarding deducting casualty losses.
Texas Workforce Commission
- Any employees who are losing wages can reach out to TWC and explore options around Disaster Unemployment Assistance by clicking the link below or calling the TWC Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 M-F from 8-5.