The hurricane season is here, bringing with it a checklist for keeping safe. Along with yourself, your family members and possessions, you should also ensure the safety of your tax records. It is always advisable to prepare early and be ready for anything in a natural disaster. Here are some simple methods to keep your tax records secure:
Create an Electronic Backup of Records
It’s a good idea to keep a backup of all your tax records in a safe place. You’ll want to store the backups separate from the original set. Also, for extra safety, you may want to keep two backups just in case one gets lost.
Your backup may include your bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, etc. If the original documents are only on paper, you can scan them to create electronic copies. These electronic documents can be saved on online storage along with a USB flash drive or external hard drive.
Photograph Home Items
You may want to photograph or videotape the contents of your home, especially items of higher value. The IRS has a disaster loss workbook, Publication 584, which can help taxpayers compile a room-by-room list of belongings. A photographic record can help you later prove the market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims. Photos can be given to a friend or a family member who lives outside the area for safe keeping.
Update your emergency plans and make sure that everyone close to you knows what they are. If disaster strikes, you can call the IRS at 1-866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues.
In case you lose your previously filed tax returns, back copies, including those of Forms W-2, can be requested by filing Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. You can also request the transcripts showing most line items on these returns by calling the IRS at 1-800-908-9946, or by using Form 4506T-EZ (Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript) or Form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return).