With so many natural disasters occurring recently, the Internal Revenue Service encourages individuals and businesses to safeguard their records against natural disasters by taking a few simple steps.
Create a Backup Set of Records Electronically
Taxpayers should keep a set of backup records in a safe place. The backup should be stored away from the original set. Keeping a backup set of records –– including, for example, bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, etc. –– is easier now that many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically, and a significant amount of financial information is available on the internet. Even if the original records are provided only on paper, they can be scanned into an electronic format. With documents in electronic form, taxpayers can save them to the cloud, download them to a backup storage device, like an external hard drive or USB flash drive, or burn them to a CD or DVD.
Another step a taxpayer can take to prepare for disaster is to photograph or videotape the contents of his or her home, especially items of higher value. The IRS has a disaster loss workbook, Publication 584, which can help taxpayers compile a room-by-room list of belongings.
A photographic record can help an individual prove the market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims. Photos should be stored with a friend or family member who does not live with you.
Update Emergency Plans
Emergency plans should be reviewed annually. Personal and business situations change over time as do preparedness needs. When employers hire new employees or when a company or organization changes functions, plans should be updated accordingly and employees should be informed of the changes.
We Are Ready to Help
Back copies of previously-filed tax returns and all attachments, including Forms W-2 and 1099, can be requested by calling our office.
We hope you never have to go through a natural disaster, but if you do, preparedness is the best.