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Penalty Abatement for "Acts of God"


 Storm over Lake Superior: an act of God?

Storms, tornadoes and earthquakes often feel like "acts of God," even to the non-religious. Fortunately for taxpayers, divine intervention is considered a reasonable cause for tax penalty abatement.

Take Minnesota, which recently experienced severe storms that downed trees and power lines, flooded homes, and tore off roofs. The Penalty Abatement page on the Minnesota Department of Revenue website explains that assessed penalties may be waived "if you can show that circumstances beyond your control prevented you from filing or paying your Sales and Use Tax on time, or from paying electronically if you're required to do so."

The DOR lists examples of "reasonable cause." These include, but are not limited to:

  • "Serious illness or death of the taxpayer or an immediate family member;"
  • "Unforeseen disasters or 'acts of God'" (severe weather, fire, flood, explosion…) that result in loss of home, place of business, or records.

Minnesota isn't the only state to offer such disaster relief. Last fall, New Jersey and New York City offered tax relief for victims of Superstorm Sandy. Texas did the same in May for tornado victims. Taking a slightly different tactic, Louisiana and Virginia offer sales tax holidays for hurricane and emergency preparedness equipment.

Taxes need to be paid, even when "acts of God" happen. Fortunately, many states grace taxpayers with a little extra time.

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Minnesota State Rates

photo credit: A Brand New Minneapolis via photopin cc


Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.