WASHINGTON - Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters are more common in the summer. The IRS encourages you to take a few simple steps to protect your tax and financial records in case a disaster strikes.
Here are five tips from the IRS to help you protect your important records:
1. Backup Records Electronically. Keep an extra set of electronic records in a safe place away from where you store the originals. You can use an external hard drive, CD or DVD to store the most important records. You can take these with you to keep your copies safe. You may want to store items such as bank statements, tax returns and insurance policies.
2. Document Valuables. Take pictures or videotape the contents of your home or place of business. These may help you prove the value of your lost items for insurance claims and casualty loss deductions. Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster and Theft Loss Workbook, can help you determine your loss if a disaster strikes.
3. Update Emergency Plans. Review your emergency plans every year. You may need to update them if your personal or business situation changes.
4. Get Copies of Tax Returns or Transcripts. Visit IRS.gov to get Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, to replace lost or destroyed tax returns. If you just need information from your return, you can order a transcript online.
5. Count on the IRS. The IRS has a Disaster Hotline to help people with tax issues after a disaster. Call the IRS at 1-866-562-5227 to speak with a specialist trained to handle disaster-related tax issues.
In the event of a disaster, the IRS stands ready to help. Visit IRS.gov to get more information about IRS disaster assistance. Click on the "Disaster Relief" link in the lower left corner of the home page. You can also get forms and publications anytime at IRS.gov or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).