How hard would it be for you or your business to recover if you are hit by a natural – or even man-made – disaster? How long would it take for you to get back up and running? Recently, the IRS has reminded taxpayers that they need to create and regularly review emergency preparedness plans for surviving natural disasters. At a minimum, you should:
- Secure key documents such as tax returns, birth certificates, deeds, titles, and insurance policies inside waterproof containers in a secure space as well as make copies and scan them for backup storage in the cloud and also on a flash drive
- Record all property, especially expensive and high value items. The IRS disaster-loss workbooks in Publication 584 can help individuals and businesses compile lists of belongings or business equipment
- Check your payroll providers fiduciary bonds since they could protect employers in the event of default by the payroll service provider
- Reconstruct records after a disaster for tax purposes, getting federal assistance, or insurance reimbursement. (Taxpayers who have lost some or all their records during a disaster can visit IRS’s Reconstructing Records webpage for help.)
If you are hit by a natural disaster, it is not necessary to call the IRS to request disaster relief since it automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area. However, if the impact leads to other tax-related questions, you can contact the IRS at 866-562-5227 to speak with a specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues. Taxpayers who do not reside in a covered disaster area, but suffered impact from a disaster should call 866-562-5227 to find out if they qualify for disaster tax relief and to discuss other available options. Moreover, taxpayers can find complete disaster assistance and emergency relief details for both individuals and businesses on the Service’s Around the Nation webpage. Lastly, the taxpayers can also visit the FEMA Prepare for Disasters web page to Build a Kit of emergency supplies.