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Thursday May 28, 2015

Washington News

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IRS Tips for Disaster Response

As the summer hurricane and tornado seasons approach, the IRS published IR-2014-71 to offer tips on safeguards for both individuals and businesses. Each person and business is encouraged to prepare a plan to respond to potential natural disasters. The typical plan may have three or four components.

1. Electronic Backup – Everyone should keep appropriate records. The IRS recommends making an electronic copy of your bank statements, tax returns and insurance policies. Many organizations now provide these documents in PDF format. However, it is fairly easy to use a scanner in your home or at a local copy store for all of your documents. With your documents in electronic form, they can be saved using internet services, on a USB flash drive, an external hard drive or on a CD or DVD.

2. Records of Valuables – It is very helpful for you to have appropriate records of your home and any items of higher value. There is an IRS disaster loss workbook, Publication 584, that offers advice on making a list of your property. Because most persons now have a smartphone with a camera, it’s also quite easy to take digital pictures of all valuables. These picture files may then be saved together with your other electronic records.

3. Updated Emergency Plans – Each individual or business should have plans for emergency supplies in your location and potential evacuation site. The emergency supplies typically include medical kits, food and water. With a major emergency, it may be necessary to remain in that location for a period of time. However, with a hurricane or tornado it may also be appropriate to evacuate. For businesses, the “stay in place” and evacuation plans should be shared with all employees.

4. IRS Assistance – The IRS has staff trained to handle disaster-related issues. Taxpayers may call 1-866-562-5227. If you need copies of tax returns or other documents, file IRS Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. There also is a Form 4506T-EZ that is a shorter and more convenient version of that form.

Disaster preparedness is an excellent concept. While your risk of a disaster in one year may be fairly low, each year there are major fires, storms, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters across the nation. It is good advice to “be prepared” for a potential natural disaster.

Published June 6, 2014
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