Taxpayers should include financial security in their disaster preparedness plans

“Internal Revenue Service” by lead poisoning is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

After a natural disaster, personal financial, insurance, medical and other records can be essential to start the recovery process. Here are some things taxpayers can do to help protect their financial security in the event of a disaster.

Update emergency plans

A disaster can strike at any time. Because personal and business situations are constantly changing, taxpayers should review their contingency plans annually.

Create electronic copies of documents

Taxpayers should keep documents in a safe place. This includes bank statements, tax returns and insurance policies. This is especially easy now since many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically. If the original documents are only available on paper, taxpayers can use a scanner and save them on a USB key or in the cloud.

Valuable documents

Documenting valuables by taking pictures or filming them before a disaster strikes makes it easier to apply for insurance and tax benefits, if needed. IRS.gov has a Disaster Loss Workbook that can help taxpayers list personal effects piece by piece.

Understand that tax relief is available in times of disaster

Information about disaster assistance and emergency relief for individuals and businesses is available at IRS.gov. Taxpayers should also consult Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters and Theft.

Taxpayers who live in a federally declared disaster area can visit Around the Nation on IRS.gov and click on their state to view available disaster tax relief. Those who live in disaster relief-eligible counties receive automatic filing and payment extensions for many tax forms currently due and do not need to contact the agency for relief.

People with disaster-related questions can call the IRS at 866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster issues. They can request copies of previously filed tax returns and attachments by filing Form 4506, order transcripts showing most line items through Get Transcript on IRS.gov, or call 800-908-9946 for transcripts.

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