Since you live in a federally declared disaster area, the rules for claiming a casualty loss are a bit different. As part of tax reform relief for those affected by natural disasters, you can now deduct your total loss (minus $500 and any amount covered by insurance) plus your usual Standard Deduction. This lets you claim everything you lost over $500 without having to itemize deductions on your taxes.
You can either claim the loss on your 2017 tax return or you can amend your 2016 return to apply an itemized loss (even if you didn't originally itemize). The deadline to submit a disaster-related amended return for 2016 taxes is October 15, 2018.
To take advantage of this, you will need to go through the steps to qualify for the casualty loss deduction. However, the usual limits won’t apply to you because you were affected by a federally declared natural disaster. You will be able to deduct your total loss, minus $500 and any amount covered by insurance.
- In TurboTax, enter your Description as follows: “State, Disaster.” For example, if your location was declared a disaster area due to the California wildfires, under Description you would enter: “California, Wildfires.”
It's a good idea to compare whether you’d get more back by amending 2016 or taking the loss in 2017 before you file your paperwork.