Here are four tips from the IRS to help you protect your important records:
1. Backup Records Electronically. Keep an extra set of electronic records in a safe place away from where you store the originals. You can use an external hard drive, CD or DVD or the Cloud to store the most important records. You can take these with you to keep your copies safe. You may want to store items such as bank statements, tax returns and insurance policies.
2. Document Valuables. Take pictures or videotape the contents of your home or place of business and then create a digital file that can be backed up. These may help you prove the value of your lost items for insurance claims and casualty loss deductions. Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster and Theft Loss Workbook (available on IRS.gov) can help you determine your loss if a disaster strikes.
3. Get Copies of Tax Returns or Transcripts. Visit IRS.gov to get Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return to replace lost or destroyed tax returns. If you just need information from your return, you can order a transcript online.
4. The IRS has a Disaster Hotline to help people with tax issues after a disaster. Call the IRS at 1-866-562-5227 to speak with a specialist trained to handle disaster-related tax issues. Visit the Disaster Relief portion of the IRS website (click on “Disaster Relief” in the lower left corner of the home page) to get more information about IRS disaster assistance.
Howard Lipset, CPA
Progressive Management, Inc.