Keep records safe in a storm

Keep records safe in a storm
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POSTED: Friday, May 20, 2011 - 9:44am

UPDATED: Saturday, May 28, 2011 - 2:45pm

The approaching 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season is predicted to be active with a possible 18 hurricanes for the season that starts June 1st.

As many residents prepare for possible river flooding or the upcoming hurricane season, the Internal Revenue Service is encouraging individuals to safeguard their records in the event that disaster strikes. Some simple steps now can help individual and businesses taxpayers protect their financial and tax records later if they are impacted by severe weather and other disasters.

1. Take Advantage of Paperless Recordkeeping for Financial and Tax Records – Storing copies of your tax returns, bank statements and other important financial documents electronically is an excellent way to protect financial records. Back up electronic files or copy files onto a CD or DVD or other electronic storage device.

2. Store your records in a separate location outside the potential disaster area - When choosing a place to keep your important records, convenience to your home should not be your primary concern. Remember, a disaster that strikes your home is also likely to affect other facilities nearby, making quick retrieval of your records difficult and maybe even impossible.

3. Document Valuables and Business Equipment - The IRS has disaster loss workbooks for individuals (Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook) and businesses (Publication 584-B, Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook) to help you compile a room-by-room list of your belongings or business equipment. This will help you recall and prove the market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims.

4. Count on the IRS - In the event of a disaster, the IRS stands ready to help. If disaster strikes, an affected taxpayer can call 1-866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related tax issues. The IRS also has valuable information you can request if your records are destroyed.

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