OKEECHOBEE — 2018 was another record year of hurricanes and fires, which have inflicted huge economic losses to timber landowners as well as homeowners with landscape trees.

The good news is that landowners may be able to deduct eligible losses on their tax returns, which is an extremely important part of the relief and recovery efforts. There are two ways landowners can find out if they can claim timber damages from hurricanes or fires on their taxes.

A Forest Taxation webinar held at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 will focus on the new tax law changes that Congress passed in 2017 that affect the casualty loss deductions starting in the 2018 tax year. This webinar will help timber owners, as well as home owners, who suffered timber or landscape tree damages with their tax reporting.

In addition, the USDA Forest Service has published guidelines to help timber owners and home owners understand the deductions for timber or landscape trees damaged from casualties. “Income Tax Deduction on Timber and Landscape Tree Loss from Casualty” was written by National Timber Tax Specialist Linda Wang, who provides customer service and assistance to landowners on tax and estate planning issues.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests, provides management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests, while protecting homes, forestland, and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.

For questions about burn authorizations and wildfire prevention, contact the local Florida Forest Service office in Highlands County at 863-655-6407. Call Glades County at 863-674-4000; Indian River County at 772-778-5085; Martin County at 772-221-4045; Okeechobee County at 863-467-3221; St. Lucie County at 772-468-3915.

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