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Taxpayer Tips on how to Prepare for Hurricanes, Floods and Other Natural Disasters

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Update Emergency Plans

Because a disaster can strike at any time, be sure to review emergency plans annually. Personal and business situations change over time as do preparedness needs. Make plans ahead of time and be sure to practice them.

Create Electronic Copies of Key Documents

Taxpayers are encouraged to store duplicate copies of bank statements, tax returns, identifications, insurance policies and other key documents in a safe, waterproof container away from the originals. Doing so is easier now that many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically, and much financial information is available on the Internet. Even if the original documents are only provided on paper, these can be scanned into an electronic format. This way, taxpayers can download them to a storage device such as an external hard drive or USB flash drive, or burn them to a CD or DVD.

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Keep a Record of Valuables

It’s a good idea to photograph or videotape household contents, especially items of higher value. Documenting these items ahead of time will make it easier to quickly claim any available insurance and tax benefits after the disaster strikes. IRS has a disaster loss workbook, Publication 584, which can help taxpayers compile a room-by-room list of belongings. Photographs will help prove the fair market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims. Ideally, photos should be stored with a friend or family member who lives outside the area.

Check on Fiduciary Bonds

Employers who use payroll service providers should ask the provider if it has a fiduciary bond in place. The bond could protect the employer in the event of default by the payroll service provider.

IRS Ready to Help

In the case of a federally declared disaster, an affected taxpayer can call 1-866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues.

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