The seminar put on by the IRS today at the Superdome was actually very well done and I learned a few things. Our presenter was Aaron Steele, a "senior stakeholder liaison" for the IRS, and Susan Canavello, an attorney for the IRS. Most of the seminar was focused on people who sold their house. The main things that I learned that applied to my situation were:
1. It's best to file now and amend my 2005 and 2007 taxes later if and when Landrieu's amendment about not taxing rebuilding grants becomes law.
2. It isn't simple math. I took a casualty loss of $95,000 in 2005. I don't record that as income. Instead, I had to fill out a form on p. 23 of IRS publication 525 (2007). It turns out that I don't need to claim any of it. Yeah!
3. If in 2007 you discover that it cost much more to fix your house than you thought in 2005, you can claim that as a casualty loss in the year you discovered it. I didn't take these casualty losses now, as I will wait for the amended return.
4. I am in way over my head and will need to hire a tax specialist when it comes time to file the amended returns.