For the purposes of this post, I do not care when infection rates from the coronavirus (COVID-19) took off in reality.

I am interested in the legal abstraction of when the United States federal government officially declared the Coronavirus to be a "natural disaster"

Was the covid-19 pandemic ever officially classified as a natural disaster? If so, did natural disaster classification occur before February 19, 2020?

This is relevant to income taxes filed in the year 2020. There is a tax deduction for those suffering from "natural disasters"

  • I don't believe it ever happened, much less before Feb 19, 2020 because the President, on Feb 24, declared (wrongly) that the "Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA", and a "national emergency" wasn't declared until March 13 but was still in strong denial about it.
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 2:17
  • 1
    Can you be more specific about which deduction you mean (line on a tax form, IRC citation, etc)? Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 2:56
  • FEMA has a list of declared disasters at fema.gov/disasters/disaster-declarations, which I think would include all those that trigger eligibility for casualty loss deductions according to Pub. 547. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be very possible to sort or search. Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 3:01
  • 1
    Given the amount of people whose income taxes would be affected, if it had been declared a "Natural Disaster" you would expect any news outlet to have several articles explaining it, what it entails and how to use it in the tax declaration. And lots of questions about it at Personal Finance & Money. The absence of those is a strong indicator that it did never happen.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 7:57

1 Answer 1


I'm not aware of any any IRC provision allowing a deduction for those suffering from "natural disasters," but there are several provisions allowing preferential treatment for income and losses linked to a "federally declared disaster."

IRC section 165 defines "federally declared disaster" as:

any disaster subsequently determined by the President of the United States to warrant assistance by the Federal Government under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

Because the governors for all states and territories have requested and received disaster declarations under the Act, retroactive to January 20, 2020, COVID-19 is a federally declared disaster for tax purposes, according to the IRS.

  • 1
    If there's a specific provision for "natural disasters," let me know and I can take a look at that, as well.
    – bdb484
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 16:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .