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IRS urges taxpayers to prepare for natural disasters

As Category 4 Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast, the IRS is reminding individuals and businesses to create or update their emergency preparedness plans, according to www.irs.gov.

During 2018, the IRS has offered tax relief and assistance to millions of victims of natural disasters, including hurricanes, severe storms, flooding, tornados, wildfires, high winds, tropical storms, an earthquake and a volcano.

Individuals, families and businesses can get ready for a disaster with a preparedness plan that includes key documents, lists of belongings and property.

  • Original documents—including bank statements, tax returns, deeds, titles and insurance policies—should be kept in a safe place in waterproof containers. A duplicate set of key documents should be kept with a family member or trusted friend outside the area the disaster may affect. Instead of copying paper documents, scan them for backup storage on a hard drive, flash drive, CD or DVD, which requires less space. Many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically.
  • Document valuables and equipment. Photographs or videos of the contents of any home or business, especially high-value items, can help support claims for any available insurance or tax benefits if a disaster strikes. The IRS has a disaster-loss workbook for individuals (Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook) and businesses (Publication 584-B, Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook) that can help people compile lists of belongings or business equipment. Images may fit on the same storage device as electronic documents.
  • Employers who use payroll service providers should ask the provider whether it has a fiduciary bond in place. The bond could protect the employer in the event of default by the payroll service provider.

In the case of a federally declared disaster with FEMA Individual Assistance, an affected taxpayer can call (866) 562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues. Taxpayers can get copies of previously filed tax returns and all attachments, including Forms W-2, by filing Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. Tax transcripts that show most line items on a tax return can be ordered through the Get Transcript link on IRS.gov; by calling (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.



9/12/2018




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