Disaster Preparedness Tips for Taxpayers and Businesses

In the past few months, the United States has experienced deadly mudslides, ruthless wildfires, a volcanic eruption and many severe storms. Natural disasters can strike any time, which is why it's crucial for individuals and businesses to be prepared. Here are tips for individuals and businesses on preparing for a disaster.

Copies of key documents

Important documents, including bank statements, tax returns, deeds, titles and insurance policies, should be kept in a safe place in waterproof containers. Scan these paper documents onto an electronic format such as a hard drive, flash drive, CD or DVD. Copies of these key documents should be kept with a family member or trusted friend outside the area the disaster may affect. Remember, a disaster that strikes your home is also likely to affect other facilities nearby, making quick retrieval of your records difficult and maybe even impossible.

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 should a disaster strike. 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. Again, a copy of these photos and videos should be kept with a friend or family member who lives away from the geographic area at risk.

IRS help

Immediately after a casualty, you can request a copy of a return and all attachments (including Form W-2) by using Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return (PDF).

If you just need information from your return, you can order a free transcript by calling (800) 829-1040 or using Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return (PDF). Requests for Transcripts are also available using the online and mail options found on the Get Transcript page. Transcripts are available for the current year and returns processed in the three prior years. IRS.gov is an indispensable resource as you prepare for and recover from disaster.

Luers & Dyer, CPAs, LLP is a full service accounting firm with offices in Julian and San Diego. For more information about our company call (760) 765-0343.