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How To Protect Your Tax Records in Natural Disasters

October 25, 2016

Source: United Way Worldwide

With Hurricane Matthew’s recent visit to our First Coast, it points to the importance of securing our tax information ahead of a disaster.  Here are some tips on how to protect your tax records:

  1. Emergency Plans — Both individuals and businesses should have an emergency plan in place and be prepared with an evacuation plan as well. You should plan ahead for secure storage and transport, if needed, of tax records.  Businesses should maintain backups of important local network data offsite in order to facilitate recovery. Your emergency plan should be updated each year.
  2. Electronic Copies — Scan or save PDFs of your tax returns, financial statements, certificates and insurance policy declaration pages. Keep the electronic copy in a safe or safety deposit box. You may save electronic records to a USB flash drive, CD or DVD.
  3. Document Valuables — Photograph and retain records for all of your high-value items. These items may include jewelry, art or other collections. IRS Pub 584 gives suggestions on how to document these valuables. Photos are particularly helpful if there is a hurricane or other natural disaster that destroys property. In that case you will need to file an insurance claim and show evidence of the lost item.
  4. IRS Help — You may call 1-866-562-5227 to speak to an IRS Disaster Specialist. A taxpayer may request copies of prior IRS Forms 1040 with Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. Another option is the Get Transcript service on www.irs.gov. A third method is to call 1-800-908-9946 to request assistance in recovering your IRS documents.