News and Insights

California’s Disaster Declarations and Tax Relief

Tax Development Apr 15, 2024

California’s Disaster Declarations and Tax Relief

In February 2024, San Diego County, California, was declared a major disaster area by both Governor Newsom and President Biden because of the damage created by the unusual winter rainstorms. On April 13, 2024, in response to Governor Newsom’s disaster declaration, nine additional counties were declared by President Biden as major disaster areas, including Butte, Glenn, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sutter, and Ventura.

Affected taxpayers in the 10 counties that have received both a presidential and gubernatorial declaration may claim the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sec. 165(i) loss “throwback” election, claiming their unreimbursed and uninsured disaster losses on either of their federal or California 2023 tax return (the taxable year before the loss) or 2024 tax return (the taxable year in which the loss occurred). Further, taxpayers may make separate state and federal elections, meaning they may claim a disaster loss on the 2023 California return but claim it on the 2024 federal return or vice versa.  

For federal purposes, the due date for making the throwback election is six months after the original due date of the federal return (without regard to extensions). For California purposes, the due date for making the throwback election is the extended due date of the return for the taxable year in which the disaster occurred.

Gubernatorial-Only Declaration

Governor Newsom declared nine other counties to be in a state of emergency: Alameda, Lake, Mendocino, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Francisco, and Sonoma. These counties do not have a presidential declaration. Governor Newsom’s proclamation makes it clear that, unlike affected taxpayers in San Diego County (see below), there will be no disaster-related tax filing and payment extensions for these 18 counties, even if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) grants extensions.

With only a gubernatorial declaration, affected taxpayers in the above-mentioned nine counties may avail themselves to the IRC Sec. 165(i) throwback election for unreimbursed and uninsured losses only for California purposes. This means that affected taxpayers in these nine counties may claim uninsured and unreimbursed disaster losses on either their 2023 or 2024 California tax return. For federal purposes, such losses must be claimed on their 2024 federal tax returns (i.e., there is no election to throwback the loss to 2023).

San Diego County Extensions

Both the IRS and California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) announced earlier this year that affected taxpayers in San Diego County who have tax deadlines falling on or after January 21, 2024, and before June 17, 2024, are granted additional time to remit their tax obligations. Affected individuals and businesses in San Diego County now have until June 17, 2024, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. The June 17, 2024, deadline applies to individual income tax returns and payments normally due on April 15, 2024, and applies to:

  • Quarterly estimated tax payments normally due on April 15, 2024.
  • 2023 contributions to IRAs and health savings accounts.
  • IRS quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on January 31, 2024, and April 30, 2024.
  • Calendar-year partnership and S corporation returns and payments normally due on March 15, 2024.
  • Calendar-year corporation and fiduciary returns and payments normally due on April 15, 2024.
  • Calendar-year tax-exempt organization returns normally due on May 15, 2024.

Generally, the IRS announces filing extensions when there is a presidential disaster declaration. However, it is doubtful that President Biden and the IRS will grant extensions to any other taxpayers other than those affected in San Diego County, especially considering that the governor made only a public assistance request and not an individual assistance request.

If the IRS approves disaster-related filing and payment extensions other than for affected taxpayers in San Diego County, how would this impact the deadlines in California? CA FTB Pub. 1034 states, “CA automatically follows federal postponement periods as announced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when they are Presidentially declared disasters.” However, the FTB has stated this publication is not correct and is revising the publication.

Taxpayers affected by the storms who are penalized for filing or paying late may request abatement of any late penalties and related interest using the “reasonable cause” or “first-time” penalty abatement exception. For more information, see or, or contact the Ryan experts listed below.


Josh Booth

Gina Rodriquez

The material presented in this communication is intended to provide general information only and should solely be seen as broad guidance and not directed to the particular facts or circumstances of any individual who may read this publication. No liability is accepted for acts or omissions taken in reliance upon the content of this piece. Before taking (or not taking) any action, readers should seek professional advice specific to their situation from Ryan, LLC or other tax professionals. For additional information about this topic, please contact us at