Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
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Generally, you may deduct casualty and theft losses relating to your home, household items, and vehicles on your federal income tax return if the loss is caused by a federally declared disaster declared by the President. You may not deduct casualty and theft losses covered by insurance, unless you file a timely claim for reimbursement and you reduce the loss by the amount of any reimbursement or expected reimbursement.
Disaster Area Losses – A federally declared disaster is a disaster that occurred in an area declared by the President to be eligible for federal assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. It includes a major disaster or emergency declaration under the Act. See Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts and Publication 2194, Disaster Resource Guide (PDF) for more information.
Casualty Losses - A casualty loss can result from the damage, destruction, or loss of your property from any sudden, unexpected, or unusual event such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, fire, earthquake, or volcanic eruption. A casualty doesn't include normal wear and tear or progressive deterioration.
If your property is personal-use property or isn't completely destroyed, the amount of your casualty loss is the lesser of:
- The adjusted basis of your property, or
- The decrease in fair market value of your property as a result of the casualty
If your property is business or income-producing property, such as rental property, and is completely destroyed, then the amount of your loss is your adjusted basis.
Theft Losses - A theft is the taking and removal of money or property with the intent to deprive the owner of it. The taking must be illegal under the law of the state where it occurred and must have been done with criminal intent.
The amount of your theft loss is generally the adjusted basis of your property because the fair market value of your property immediately after the theft is considered to be zero.