Federal agencies are granting businesses some leeway in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), for example, has released an emergency declaration temporarily exempting truckers providing direct assistance to the hurricane relief effort from several FMCSA regulations (parts 390 through 399), including safety and hours of service (HOS) requirements. According to the FMCSA declaration:
The emergency exemption is issued as a result of extreme weather conditions, shortages, and interruptions in the availability and/or delivery and repair of services and property throughout the States affected in the Eastern Region to include the following: Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia. It is effective beginning October 29, 2012.
The exemption applies to commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators providing emergency materials and services to customers in the aforementioned states. The direct assistance stipulation no longer applies when a driver or CMV is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services unrelated to the emergency relief effort, or when the driver is sent to carry out strictly commercial work. The temporary regulatory exemption does not apply to motor carriers or drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order. CMV drivers must keep a copy of the FMCSA declaration with them in order for the exemption to apply. This regulatory amnesty will last for the duration of the emergency, or 15 days (until Nov. 12, 2012), whichever time period is less.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is similarly granting certain individuals and businesses a reprieve as a result of the storm. The agency is allowing taxpayers and preparers affected by Hurricane Sandy until November 7, 2012 to file returns and accompanying tax payments that would have been due on October 31. According to the IRS notice announcing the extension, this tax relief affects mainly businesses whose payroll and excise tax returns would have been due on Wednesday. The relief is automatic, and therefore no action on the preparer/taxpayer’s part is necessary. If an overdue penalty notice is mistakenly sent, individuals may contact the IRS office to explain.