Four Easy Steps to Help You in the Event of a Natural Disaster

Tax Planning

As Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, we can only hope for everyone’s safety.  If a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy impacts you, do you know how to safeguard your records or how to retrieve them?


Here are 4 easy steps to help you in the event of a natural disaster:

1.  Create an Electronic Backup Set of Records

  • Always keep an extra set of electronic backup records in a safe place away from your originals.
  • One advantage of preparing your own taxes with tax software is you have control over saving your own copies of tax files.  Always save your tax return as a PDF file and back it up on a flash drive or CD.
  • Email yourself a copy of your PDF file(s) so even if your computer is inaccessible, you can access your emailed PDF file from any computer.
  • Banks and financial institutions can provide electronic copies of important documents.  Don’t forget you can access that information online.

2.  Order Transcripts or Copies From the IRS

  • If you still can’t access your tax records you can request backup copies of previously filed tax returns and all attachments by filing Form 4506.
  • You can also request transcripts by filing Form 4506-T.  Transcripts show most line items including your adjusted gross income.  Transcripts can also be ordered online or by calling (800)908-9946.

3.  Document Valuables

  • Always photograph or videotape contents of your home to help prove market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims.
  • Store photographs and videos outside your home.
  • Snap pictures of valuables on your cell phone and email the pictures to yourself or a trusted friend or relative so you can access them from any computer.

4.  Check the IRS Tax Relief Site

  • IRS provides relief to individuals and businesses who live in areas that have been declared a major natural disaster by the federal government.
  • Relief can be in the form of postponement of tax filing and payment deadlines.
  • Recent victims of Hurricane Isaac have an extended tax filing and tax payment deadline of January 11, 2013 for their 2011 taxes.
  • If you are affected by disaster, you can also call (866)562-5227 to speak to a specialist trained to handle disaster related issues.
  • For additional information regarding assistance in the event of a disaster, check the IRS Disaster Losses Kit for Individuals.

* The President has signed disaster declarations for individuals impacted by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey.  Find out how to claim casualty losses if you are a victim of National Disaster in an area federally declared as a disaster.

How do you save your important documents?  Do you have any helpful tips to share?

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