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. 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.
What is a casualty loss?
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 does not include normal wear and tear or progressive deterioration.
There are three types of casualty losses: federal casualty losses, disaster losses, and qualified disaster losses. All three types of losses are referred to as federally declared disasters, but the requirements for each loss vary.
What is a theft loss?
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.
Special rules may apply to theft losses from Ponzi-type investment schemes.
How is the loss claimed?
Individuals may claim their casualty and theft losses as an itemized deduction on Schedule A. For property held by you for personal use, you must subtract $100 from each casualty or theft event that occurred during the year after you've subtracted any salvage value and any insurance or other reimbursement. Then add up all those amounts and subtract 10% of your adjusted gross income from that total to calculate your allowable casualty and theft losses for the year.
If you have a qualified disaster loss you may elect to deduct the loss without itemizing your deductions. Your net casualty loss doesn't need to exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income to qualify for the deduction, but you would reduce each casualty loss by $500 after any salvage value and any other reimbursement.
Report casualty and theft losses on Form 4684, Casualties and Thefts using the pathway below:
- Deductions - Select my forms
- Itemized Deductions
- Less Common Deductions
- Casualties and Losses