Is a water leak damage and repair deductible?

April 29, 2022 by Carolyn Richardson, EA, MBA
water damage in a home

We had a water leak in our home. A couple of different companies came to do the clean up and used chemicals which caused us to get rid of our clothing, bedding, and furniture. Is this deductible?

-Ken, VA


Hello Ken,

Thank you for submitting your question. You asked if you could deduct the cost of clothing, bedding, and furniture that were ruined due to chemicals used by clean up companies after you experienced a water leak in your home. We’re sorry to hear about the damage the leak caused, and hope that everything is back to normal for you.

As you may already be aware, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) limited when individual taxpayers can claim a casualty loss (such as damage caused by a leak in their home). Generally, for tax years 2018 through 2025, taxpayers can only deduct casualty losses that occur due to a federally declared disaster. These types of events are usually due to large natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms, or earthquakes. Virginia, the state you are located in, conforms to this change in the federal tax law, which means they will likewise only allow a deductible casualty on your state return if it was federally declared as a disaster.

You may want to take a look at our blog here for more detailed information on the particular rules involved. You don’t mention that your leak was caused by a major event such as this, so we assume that your water leak was caused by something else, such as a leaking or burst pipe or hose. If this is the case, it’s unlikely you have a deductible casualty loss; however, there may be some exceptions.

If you used a portion of your home for business – such as a home office – that portion of your home is considered to be business property, and business casualty losses were not suspended by the TCJA. In this case, your loss would be limited to the loss of any furniture or fixtures in the office that were damaged either by the water or cleanup process. For example, if your desk or computer equipment were damaged, then the loss would equal the fair market value of the items immediately before the casualty, less the fair market value immediately after the casualty. This would then need to be reduced by any insurance reimbursement.

It’s unlikely that most of your loss is deductible on your taxes, though, unless it occurred because of a federally declared disaster. If you have hazard insurance on your home, you should file a claim with your insurance company for the damage caused by the leak. In many cases, damages caused by a water leak are covered by your homeowner’s insurance. This is one of the reasons we have homeowner’s insurance, right? Since water damage can be widespread and cause other problems, such as mold, mitigating the damage caused by a leak can be very expensive and time consuming. So, while you may not be able to deduct the loss, you may be able to recoup your costs through your insurance. A claim would have needed to be filed, even if the loss was incurred due to a federally declared disaster, as the IRS will not allow a loss that should have been covered by the insurance company.

We sincerely hope that you did not lose anything precious to you due to the leak, and that your recovery from this unfortunate event is rapid and complete.

Sincerely,
Carolyn Richardson, EA, MBA

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Carolyn Richardson, EA, MBA
Learning Content Managing Editor

 

Carolyn has been in the tax field since 1984, when she went to work at the IRS as a Revenue Agent. Carolyn taught many classes at the IRS on both tax law changes and new hire training. In 1990, she left the IRS for a position at CCH, where she was a developer on both the service bureau software and on the Prosystevm fx tax preparation software for nearly 17 years. After leaving CCH she worked at several Los Angeles-based CPA firms before starting at TaxAudit as an Audit Representative in 2009. Carolyn became the manager of the Education and Research Department in 2011, developing course materials for the company and overseeing the research requests. Currently, she is the Learning Content Managing Editor. 


 

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