There is a Winter Weather Advisory in effect across parts of PA and NJ through tomorrow. According to the forecast, snow accumulations are expected of up to 4 inches. Wind gusts could be up to 50 mph (yes, 50 mph) and temps will be at freezing.

Normally, that would be just another winter forecast for the northeast. But in the light of Hurricane Sandy, it’s serious. It could mean more flooding, more downed trees and power outages at a time when hundreds of thousands of people (estimates are at 600,000 in NJ alone) are still without power. Some towns impacted last week are under mandatory evacuation – again.

Victims of the storm still need your help. Donations of cash and blood are being requested by Red Cross and specific donations are being solicited by local schools and shelters (call 1.800.JERSEY7 for information or go to my Facebook page for requests as they are made available).

As the recovery efforts are stepped up, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have announced special relief for volunteers. The special relief is intended to support leave-based donation programs to aid victims who have suffered from the extraordinary destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.

What this means is that, as part of this relief, employees may donate their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for employer cash payments made to qualified tax-exempt organizations providing relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. This will apply to payments made before January 1, 2014. Under this relief, donated leave will not be included in the income or wages on a Form W-2. Employers will be permitted to deduct the amount of the cash payment. For more details, see Notice 2012-69.

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney and tax writer.

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