IRS Offers Tips to Help You Prepare for Hurricanes and Other Natural Disasters
August 2, 2016
With hurricane season underway, the IRS offers advice to those impacted by storms and other natural disasters. Here are some tips to help you prepare for such events.
Use Electronic Records
You may have access to bank and other financial statements online. If so, your statements are already securely stored there. You can also keep an additional set of records electronically. One way is to scan tax records and insurance policies onto an electronic format. You may want to download important records to an external hard drive, USB flash drive or burn them onto a CD or DVD. Be sure you keep duplicates of your records in a safe place. For example, store them in a waterproof container away from the originals. If a disaster strikes your home, it may also affect a wide area. If that happens, you may not be able to retrieve the records that are stored in that area.
Take photos or videos of the contents of your home or business. These visual records can help you prove the value of your lost items. They may help with insurance claims or casualty loss deductions on your tax return. You should also store these in a safe place. For example, you might store them with a friend or relative who lives out of the area.
Count on the IRS for Help
If you fall victim to a disaster, know that the IRS stands ready to help. You can call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 for special help with disaster-related tax issues.
Get Copies of Prior Year Tax Records
If you need a copy of your tax return, you should file Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. The usual fee per copy is $50. However, the IRS will waive this fee if you are a victim of a federally declared disaster. If you just need information that shows most line items from your tax return, you can request a free transcript. The quickest way to get a copy of your tax transcript is to use the Get Transcript application. You can also get it if you call 1-800-908-9946. Two other options are to file Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript, or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.
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This Disaster Recovery Guide has been compiled from a variety of sources. It is intended as a source book and guide only. It is not a substitute for professional judgment or for research into authoritative professional literature. Although this manual is not authoritative, it will help guide you to authoritative sources.
Material contained within this guide should be augmented by, and used in accordance with, a certified public accountant's professional judgment. Your CPA can properly apply the tax laws and regulations to the facts and circumstances of your particular situation. For help with locating a CPA, visit findacpa.org.
The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants is not responsible for any claims arising as a result of this information or its usage.
This guide was updated in October 2019. Future users of this material are cautioned that some portions, particularly tax-related information, may become outdated.