It’s not the most challenging tax return Susan Stocks has ever worked on.
Stocks, a longtime accountant by trade, has done complicated filings, even closed out companies. But she’s never been as invested in a tax return as the one she’s working on now.
It’s been a puzzle with missing pieces, hours upon hours and nights and weekends spent recreating documents reduced to ashes when wildfire took out Gatlinburg’s Tudor Inn bed-and-breakfast she co-owned with husband Glenn, her cousin and her brother.
“The challenge with these are just re-doing the entire year of transactions and getting accurate opening balances,” said Stocks, who was at her nearby apartment on the night of the fire, Nov. 28, and wasn’t able to grab her hard drive or flash drives from the inn as they prepared to flee.
After the inn, which was their primary source of income, burned, Stocks initially asked for extra hours at her part-time accounting job for a Sevier County entertainment company.
But as the weeks wore on and the couple dealt with demolition, insurance and other tasks related to cleaning up after the loss, Stocks again reduced her work hours to two days a week to help her meet the deadline for filing taxes.
Businesses affected by the wildfires can request an extension of time to file their federal tax returns. The government will accept, on a case-by-case basis, extension requests from taxpayers who can’t file the tax returns as required by law, because of natural disasters, the Tennessee Department of Revenue said on its website. It directed business owners needing an extension to call at 615-253-0600 or apply at https://revenue.support.tn.gov/hc/en-us.
“I hope to have them filed by the end of April,” Stocks said.
A waiting game
It’s just more pages in the volume of paperwork that has become the Stocks’ life since the fire. Now that the demolition on what remained of the inn is complete, straw spread over the newly bare ground, it’s a waiting game.
“Insurance claims are coming in at a snail’s pace,” Stocks said, though they’ve been happy with their insurer’s response to the disaster.
A check for the personal property they had at the inn, where they stayed only while guests were there, will be slower to arrive because it inadvertently got sent to the inn’s Holly Ridge Road address and not to the Stocks’ personal residence in an apartment building a mile away.
“Forwarded mail in Gatlinburg gets sent to Knoxville to be redirected, normally an extra seven to 10 days,” Stocks said.
Meanwhile, the couple waits for roofers to come repair the tiles on the apartment building, which they also own.
“The wheels of progress turn very slowly here in the mountains,” Stocks said, especially when demand for demolition, repair and other services are so high.
Stocks counts herself lucky that she has the experience to deal with their complex tax return. That’s her current focus, and afterward – who knows where their future lies? Stocks said she may apply for a job in another state, with an eye toward stability for their retirement years.
“I believe the Lord has closed the door on Gatlinburg for us,” Stocks said – but with preparation, when the next door opens, “we’ll be ready.”
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Video: Owners of Tudor Inn dig through rubble
Video: Year of Recovery: The Stocks Family
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