Tax Tip: Safeguard records for hurricane season

Tax Tip: Safeguard records for hurricane season
Hurricane Central

POSTED: Friday, May 11, 2012 - 7:00am

UPDATED: Friday, May 11, 2012 - 7:04am

The IRS encourages you to prepare for the start of the Atlantic hurricane season June 1. Planning what to do in the event of a disaster is an important part of being prepared. Some simple steps can help individuals and businesses protect financial and tax records in the event of severe weather and other disasters.

1. Take Advantage of Paperless Recordkeeping for Financial and Tax Records. Many people receive bank statements and other documents electronically. This method is an outstanding way to protect financial records. You can scan important tax records such as W-2s, tax returns and other paper documents onto an electronic format. Other options include copying files onto a CD or DVD or other electronic storage device.

2. 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. One option is to photograph or videotape the contents of your home and/or business, especially items of greater value. You should store the photo or videotape in a safe location away from the geographic area at risk.

3. Count on the IRS. In the event of a disaster, the IRS is ready to help. The IRS has valuable information you can request if your records are destroyed. IRS.gov is an indispensable resource as you prepare for and recover from disaster. Visit our special web page, Tax Relief in Disaster Situations, for helpful information to prepare for a disaster.

One final reminder: 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.

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