Protect Yourself From Fires and Hurricanes This Summer
The month of May is an excellent time to begin reviewing your emergency preparedness plan. Part of that plan includes taking steps to protect personal documents and tax-related information.
1. Secure Key Documents — You should gather your tax returns, birth certificates, deeds to property and insurance policies and place them in a waterproof container or a secure location. Many individuals also create a duplicate of key documents and leave those with a trusted person or store them on an external drive.
2. Document Valuables — If there is a natural disaster, you could suffer the loss of valuable collections, furniture and other items in your home. You will have a much better opportunity to receive compensation from an insurance company or claim tax benefits for a disaster loss if you have good records. IRS Publication 584 includes disaster-loss workbooks that may help you compile lists of property.
3. Rebuild After a Disaster — If you do experience a disaster, you may need assistance from the government or your insurance company. If you have lost some or all of your tax records, the IRS has a webpage on " Reconstructing Records After a Natural Disaster or Casualty Loss" on www.irs.gov.
4. IRS Assistance — If the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issues a disaster declaration for your area, the IRS often will postpone tax-filing and tax-payment deadlines. You do not need to call the IRS. The IRS computers can identify taxpayers who are located in covered disaster areas. If you have tax-related questions on a disaster in your area, contact the IRS at (866) 562-5227 to speak with a specialist. The IRS has trained staff who can answer disaster-related questions.
While individuals all hope not to be involved in a natural disaster, it could happen to you without notice. There are additional natural disaster preparations that will help protect you on www.irs.gov. There is also a webpage on the FEMA website with a recommended set of emergency supplies for a natural disaster. Check out "Build a Kit" on FEMA.gov for more information.