Fire Victim Trust

Frequently Asked Questions


Business Income Loss ("BIL") Claims


112. How do I satisfy the tax return requirement if I did not file a tax return for a given year or years included in the Benchmark or Loss Periods?

A Verification of Non-filing Letter from the IRS provides proof that the IRS has no record of a filed tax return for one or more years. Individuals who did not file a tax return for a given year or years included in the Benchmark or Loss Periods can request an IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter, free of charge, by visiting the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/transcript-types-and-ways-to-order-them and following the instructions to request a Verification of Non-filing Letter.


113. What is a BIL Claim?

BIL Claims include claims for economic losses suffered by a business as a result of the Fires, including loss of business property or inventory used to conduct business and lost profits or revenue.


114. I co-own a business with one or more other owners.  Who should submit a claim for the business?

Any authorized business representative may submit a claim for the business; however, the Claimant Name on the Claims Questionnaire must be the business name as it appears on the business's tax returns and the Taxpayer Identification Number must be the business's EIN. Owners of a business entity should not submit claims under their SSNs for their separate ownership interests in the business.


115. What documents must I submit in support of a BIL Claim?

All Claimants must provide the following documents in support of a BIL Claim:

 

  • A completed Claims Questionnaire verified by the Claimant;
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  • Documentation from independent third-party sources to establish that the Claimant has suffered property damage or personal injury as a result of the Fire;
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  • Annual Federal Tax Returns, including all relevant Schedules and Attachments (e.g., Schedules C, E, or F for Form 1040, Schedule K-1 for Form 1065 or Form 1120S, etc.), for all calendar years included in the Benchmark Period and the Loss Period;
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  • Documentation to verify formation and ownership of the business (if applicable), such as:

     

    1. Articles/Certificate of Incorporation/Organization
    2. Corporate Bylaws
    3. Operating Agreement
    4. Corporate Resolutions
    5. Shareholder Lists
    6. Partnership Agreements
    7. Other documents to establish legal ownership;
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  • Documentation to establish the nature of the Claimant’s business/industry;

     

  • Documentation to establish the Claimant’s loss location(s);

     

  • Documentation of insurance limits, broken down by coverage type (e.g., business interruption, business personal property, etc.) and loss location (as applicable);
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  • Documentation of FEMA funds received, broken down by FEMA payment category (as applicable); and
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  • Documentation of extraordinary losses, such as receipts or accounting statements documenting lost inventory, equipment/property repair, or other additional expenses associated with the Fire (as applicable).


116. What is the Benchmark Period?

This is the period of time before the Fire that serves as a baseline to establish the business claimant's pre-Fire revenues and expenses. The Trust will use the following Benchmark Periods, to the extent the business was in operation during the applicable years:

 

  • Butte Fire: 2012 – 2014
  • North Bay Wildfires: 2014 – 2016
  • Camp Fire: 2015 – 2017


117. What is the Loss Period?

This is the period of time after the Fire over which the Trust will base its future payment calculations for lost income as a result of the Fire. A Claimant's Loss Period will depend on various factors, including the extent of the Claimant's property damage and/or personal injury and other relevant facts and circumstances. At a minimum, the Loss Period for all BIL Claims will include the calendar year in which the Fire occurred and the subsequent calendar year.


118. What is individualized review?

Depending on the specific facts and circumstances, certain Claimants will be subject to a review that is more individualized and/or detailed, and the evaluation criteria applied to those BIL Claims may deviate from the standard evaluation framework.


119. What documents are required for individualized review?

In addition to the documents required to evaluate all BIL Claims, the Trust may require the following documents:

 

  • Annual and monthly Profit and Loss statements, contemporaneously prepared and specifying the basis of accounting used, for the Benchmark Period, Loss Period, and any other period deemed necessary by the Trust, as well as source documentation to support and verify these financial statements;
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  • Annual Federal Tax Returns, including all relevant Schedules and Attachments (e.g., Schedules C, E, or F for Form 1040, Schedule K-1 for Form 1065 or Form 1120S, etc.), for certain calendar years preceding the standard Benchmark Period;
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  • Any existing audited financial statements for the Benchmark Period and the Loss Period;
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  • State or federal regulatory filings; and
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  • Documentation provided to the Claimant’s insurer to support insurance claims.


120. What if I do not have access to my business’s Annual Federal Tax Returns?

You can request Annual Federal Tax Return transcripts for missing years by visiting IRS.gov and filling out a Form 4506-T (Request for Copy of Tax Return).


121. What additional documentation must I submit to support a claim for lost or damaged Business Personal Property?

In addition to the documentation required for all BIL Claims, the Claimant must submit documentation of extraordinary losses, such as receipts or accounting statements documenting lost inventory, equipment/property repair, or other additional expenses associated with the Fire (as applicable).


122. What documents are acceptable to verify my ownership of Business?

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Articles of Organization
  • Certificate of Organization
  • Bylaws
  • Operating Agreements
  • Corporate Resolutions
  • Shareholder Lists
  • Partnership Agreements
  • Other documents to establish legal ownership


123. I operated my business out of my personal residence.  Can I make a claim for economic losses suffered by my business as a result of the damage to my residence as a result of the Fire?

Yes, Business Claimants may submit Business Income Loss Claims for economic losses suffered by a business as a result of the Fire, including loss of business property or inventory used to conduct business and lost profits or revenue.


124. Can I submit a Business Income Loss Claim for lost rental income?

Yes, you should submit a Business Loss Claim for lost income from the rental of real or personal property suffered as a result of the Fire.


125. Can I submit a Business Income Loss Claim if I am the sole proprietor of a business or an independent contractor?

Yes, sole proprietors and independent contractors should submit Business Income Loss Claims if you report expenses on the Schedule Cs you file with your federal income tax returns. If you report expenses on your Schedule C for a business you own, you should submit a Business Income Loss Claim.


126. What types of documents may support my Business Loss Claim?

  • Description of the business, including its mission statement;
  • Tax returns, including all schedules or attachments;
  • Financial statements, including profit and loss statements;
  • Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, shareholder lists, or partnership or limited partnership agreements;
  • Leases, deeds, titles, or other documents identifying the property owned or occupied by the business;
  • Canceled contracts;
  • Photos, videos, or other documentary evidence of fire damage to the Claimant’s home or business; and
  • Other supporting documents within the Claimant’s possession.


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