Is a Business Fire Settlement Taxable Income?

An insurance settlement provides funds for restoring a fire-damaged business.
An insurance settlement provides funds for restoring a fire-damaged business. (Image: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Fire is a destructive natural force, and having a fire at your place of business can result in significant losses. If your business is properly insured, the settlement you receive after the fire should cover the costs to repair the fire-damaged property and get your business running again. Whether the settlement is considered taxable on your business tax filings depends on how much you receive from the insurance company.

Taxable Income

The Internal Revenue Service requires that taxes be paid on all income that is not specifically exempt from taxation. In most cases, however, insurance settlements awarded as a result of property damage are not considered income by the IRS because they exist solely to restore the damaged facility to the state it was in before the damage occurred. Whether a settlement awarded after a fire is considered income or not depends both on the amount of the settlement and the cost of repairing your place of business.

Cost of Recovery

The cost of recovery after a fire includes both the cost of physically repairing the damaged structure and getting your business running again. Equipment, inventory and other items that may have been damaged during the fire will typically have to be replaced, and the cost of these replacements are included in settlement considerations. Because an insurance settlement is designed to help your business recover from a fire, money spent on this recovery is not considered income.

Settlement Amount

The amount of the settlement your business receives from its insurance company is the largest determining factor in whether you must claim the settlement as income. In many cases, the amount of the settlement may be less than what is needed to fully recover from a fire at your place of business and, as such, is not considered income in the eyes of the IRS. Fire insurance settlements are only considered taxable income when a profit is made over the cost of recovery.

Partial Taxability

If the total amount of the settlement is more than the cost of recovery, the difference between the two amounts is considered taxable income by the IRS because it serves as a business profit on top of the cost of repair. The taxable amount must be claimed as other income on your business tax filings, and taxes must be paid on it at the appropriate rate for your business type.

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