With the 2019 hurricane season right around the corner, the IRS is partnering with the National Weather Service to encourage taxpayers to create or update their emergency plans as part of Hurricane Preparedness week.
The IRS noted that in the past 18 months, it has responded to presidentially-declared disasters in 15 states and U.S. territories. Its efforts included providing tax relief and assistance to victims of hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons, tornadoes, severe storms, high winds and floods.
In IR-2019-87, the IRS reminded taxpayers to prepare for the unexpected and provided helpful tips and information for taxpayers to consider before a natural disaster strikes.
- Annually Update Emergency Plans: The IRS reminds citizens that a natural disaster can occur at any time and, as such, it is important that taxpayers maintain current emergency plans for both their families and their businesses. These plans should be reviewed with family members and employees at least annually and updated whenever a significant change occurs, such as a change in marital status, the size of a family or relocation.
- Back Up Important Documents: Key documents, such as bank statements, tax returns, identification documents and insurance policies, should be stored in a secure location, such as a waterproof container or fireproof safe. The IRS also recommends making copies of these important documents and storing them in secure location, away from the originals. It is also prudent to obtain digital copies of these documents or to scan and download digital copies so that they can be kept on a storage device, like an external hard drive, CD or flash drive.
- Document Home and Valuables: Because natural disasters have the potential to destroy homes and property, the IRS encourages taxpayers to take photographs of their homes and valuable property items. These photos can help substantiate the fair market value of property if filing for insurance or casualty loss claims. Copies of these photographs should be safely stored and backed up in case the originals are destroyed. See IRS Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster and Theft Loss Workbook and Publication 584-B, Business Casualty, Disaster and Theft Loss Workbook for help compiling lists and obtaining photos of personal belongings and business equipment.
- IRS Assistance: In the event of a federally-declared disaster, taxpayers can call 866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist who is trained to handle disaster-related tax issues. If key tax documents have been lost or destroyed, taxpayers can obtain replacements by submitting Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return.