September is National Preparedness Month and the IRS is urging consumers to develop an emergency preparedness plan, or if they already have one, update it.
The IRS says that everyone, from individuals to organizations and businesses, can start by securing and duplicating essential tax and financial documents, creating lists of property and knowing where to find information once a disaster occurs.
Start secure. Keep critical original documents inside waterproof containers in a secure space, and consider having a relative, friend or other trusted person retain duplicate copies of the documents at a location outside the potentially impacted disaster area.
Make copies. If original documents are available only on paper, try scanning them into a digital file format. Saving them in a secure digital location, like a cloud-based storage application, can provide added security and portability.
Document valuables. Maintain a detailed inventory of your property and business contents. Taxpayers can take photos or videos to record their possessions but should also write down descriptions including year, make and model numbers, where appropriate.
Employer fiduciary bonds. Employers using payroll service providers should check if their provider has a fiduciary bond in place to protect the employer against a possible provider default.
Know where to go. Reconstructing records after a disaster may be required for tax purposes, getting federal assistance or insurance reimbursement. Most financial institutions can provide statements and documents electronically, an option that can aid the reconstruction process. For tips on reconstructing records, visit the IRS Reconstructing Records webpage.
IRS assistance. Following a federal disaster declaration, the IRS may postpone various tax filing and tax payment deadlines or provide other relief. For a list of localities qualifying for relief and details on relief available, visit the IRS Tax Relief in Disaster Situations webpage or the IRS Around the Nation webpage.
For more information about National Preparedness Month, visit the National Preparedness Month webpage.