Ice and snow storms caused serious damage to landscape trees and shrubs last winter. A frequent question of property owners now is. "Can these losses be recovered to some degree through tax deductions."

The answer is yes.

The allowable deduction is normally determined by the amount of loss suffered in the value of the property, measured by the difference in the value immediately before and after the casualty, according to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers.

Trees, for example, can increase the value of a property as much as 20 percent, according to a study by the U.S. Forest Service. The average increase is 5 to 10 percent, and this represents a $3,000 to $7,000 rise in the selling price of average homes.

A survey of 98 realtors revealed that an attractive lawn and plantings are doubly important. They not only add substantially to the value of the property, but they also make the prospective buyer feel that the house itself has been well cared for.

A thick, green, weed-free lawn could add an average of more than $1,400 to the resale value of the house, the realtors said, and flowers, trees and shrubs another $1,500.

After loss has occurred, the best evidence for establishing the loss, insofar as the Internal Revenue Service is concerned is competent appraisal. IRS also provides that the cost of repairs is acceptable as evidence of loss, provided the taxpayer can show that the repairs were necessary and reasonable in amount, and that they did not go beyond the actual damage suffered nor raise the property value above its level before the loss.

There are some things property owners can do now to help if future losses occur.

Take pictures of the trees now, while they are alive and well.In case damage is claimed as a tax dedcution, before and after pictures will help a lot as far as the IRS is concerned.

The shade your tree provides on your house, patio or other living areas is worth money you can claim as part of a casualty loss. A farmer is Tennessee was allowed a business loss by IRS when his cattle were deprived of the shade from trees destroyed in his pasture.