People should put together an emergency preparedness plan for their household – and include copies of their vital records and financial information. By creating an emergency preparedness plan and updating it annually, people will be able to start the recovery process faster if they’re affected by a disaster or other emergency.
Here are some things taxpayers can do to help protect their financial records.
Update emergency preparedness plan annually
Personal and business situations are constantly evolving, so taxpayers should review their emergency preparedness plan annually. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Ready.gov website has resources and checklists to help people put together their emergency preparedness plan.
Create electronic copies of documents
Taxpayers should keep important 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 original documents are available only on paper, taxpayers can use a scanner and save them on a USB flash drive or in the cloud.
Documenting valuables by taking pictures or videoing them before disaster strikes makes it easier to claim insurance and tax benefits. IRS.gov has a disaster loss workbook that can help taxpayers compile a room-by-room list of belongings.
Understand tax relief available for disaster situations
Information on Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief for Individuals and Businesses is available at IRS.gov. Taxpayers should also review Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters and Thefts.
Taxpayers who live in a federally declared disaster area can visit Around the Nation on IRS.gov and click on their state to review the available disaster tax relief. Those who live in counties qualifying for disaster relief receive automatic filing and payment postponements for many currently due tax returns and don’t need to contact the agency to get relief.
People with disaster-related questions can call the IRS Special Services Hotline at 866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster issues.
If people have lost their tax documents, they can order tax transcripts or request copies of previously filed tax returns and attachments through Get Transcript on IRS.gov, by filing Form 4506 or by calling 800-908-9946.