The term “casualty” refers to an unexpected, unusual event. It is not a gradual or progressive loss. Examples of casualty events include a plane crash, hurricane, wildfire, hail, or ice storm. Casualty losses are not deductible for the natural mortality of living things, such as a tree’s death. Tree death does not happen because of routine disease, competition, or low rainfall.
Lessons to learn from wartime casualties
The centenary commemorations of World War I have been marked by questionable decisions that have obscured reflection on the war and its consequences. The news media lacks a degree of competency in historical examination and has failed to adequately highlight the significance of wartime casualties. Sober reflection should take the form of an examination of the past, its effects on the present and future, and the millions of lives that were lost.
Modern wars are becoming more violent than in the past, and many civilian deaths result from deliberate targeting by combatants. Between 1990 and 2000, more than 100 civil wars erupted worldwide, and more than half of the rebel groups and government forces deliberately targeted civilians, often for strategic reasons. In addition to committing attacks on civilians, these forces target their opponents’ own loyal populations, including civilians. Terrorists often conduct these attacks and are responsible for the most recognizable wartime casualties.
Sources of casualty data
For information about natural disasters and related statistics, there are several sources of casualty data. The EM-DAT database, available at Gapminder, contains comprehensive data on disaster casualty statistics. These tables include death tolls from earthquakes, weather disasters, and plane crashes. EM-DAT also has historical data for tsunami events around the world. These data can be downloaded as tab-delimited files.
Calculation of casualty loss
If you suffered a loss in a natural disaster, you can deduct the cost of the repairs or replacement of the property on your tax return. Business losses can also be deducted if they occurred in a federally declared disaster area. There are two methods to determine deductible casualty losses: the partial loss formula and the total loss formula. Both methods require a thorough knowledge of Adjusted Basis, which is the cost of the property and any improvements to it.
The safe harbor method is not applicable to aircraft, boats, and motor homes. It is not applicable to antiques or motor homes. It is also not applicable to automobiles, motorcycles, sport utility vehicles, and off-road vehicles. For these types of property, pre-disaster values are determined. However, in some instances, the safe harbor method is not applicable. To calculate a casualty loss based on repair costs, you must use established pricing sources.
When considering the deductibility of a casualty loss, the property value must be determined before determining the total deduction. The amount of the loss must be determined by determining the fair market value of the asset before the casualty. You must also consider the cost of the clean-up and repairs. The total deduction must be less than the value of the property after the casualty.