Tips on Preparing for a Disaster
What to do in case of a disaster? With recent reports of disasters across the country, we thought we’d take this opportunity to discuss the importance of disaster planning. The Internal Revenue Service encourages taxpayers to safeguard their records. Some simple steps can help taxpayers and businesses protect financial and tax records in case of disasters.
Listed below are tips for individuals and businesses when preparing for a disaster.
- Recordkeeping Take advantage of paperless recordkeeping for financial and tax records. Many people receive bank statements and documents by e-mail. This method is an outstanding way to secure financial records. Important tax records such as W-2s, tax returns and other paper documents can be scanned onto an electronic format. You can copy them onto a ‘key’ or ‘jump drive’ periodically and then keep the electronic records in a safe place.
- Document Valuables and Business Equipment The IRS has disaster loss workbooks for individuals and businesses that can help you compile a room-by-room list of your belongings or business equipment. This will help you recall and prove the market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims. Call our firm if you’d like a copy.
- Check on Fiduciary Bonds Employers who use payroll service providers should ask the provider if they have a fiduciary bond in place. The bond could protect the employer in the event of default by the payroll service provider.
- Continuity of Operations Planning for Businesses How quickly your company can get back to business after a disaster often depends on emergency planning done today. Start planning now to improve the likelihood that your company will survive and recover. Review your emergency plans annually. Just as your business changes over time, so do your preparedness needs. When you hire new employees or when there are changes in how your company functions, you should update your plans and inform your people.
- Update Emergency Plans Emergency plans should be reviewed annually. Individual taxpayers should make sure they are saving documents everybody should keep including such things as W-2s, home closing statements and insurance records. Make sure you have a means of receiving severe weather information; if you have a NOAA Weather Radio, put fresh batteries in it. Make sure you know what you should do if threatening weather approaches.
- Contact your Accountant Your Accountant has access to valuable information through the IRS and his or her own records. If you have been impacted by a federally declared disaster, you may receive copies or transcripts of previously filed tax returns free of charge by submitting Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Form, or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, clearly identified as a disaster related request.