WASHINGTON — September is National Preparedness Month. With the height of hurricane season fast approaching and the ongoing threat of wildfires in some parts of the country, the Internal Revenue Service reminds everyone to develop an emergency preparedness plan.
All taxpayers, from individuals to organizations and businesses, should take time now to create or update their emergency plans.
Taxpayers can begin getting ready for a disaster with a preparedness plan that includes securing and duplicating essential tax and financial documents, creating lists of property and knowing where to find information once a disaster has occurred. Securing this information can help in the aftermath of a disaster, and it can help people more quickly take advantage of disaster relief available from the IRS.
Taxpayers should keep critical original documents inside waterproof containers in a secure space. Documents such as tax returns, birth certificates, deeds, titles and insurance policies should also be duplicated and kept with a trusted person outside the area a natural disaster may affect.
If original documents are available only on paper, taxpayers can use a scanner and save them on a USB flash drive, CD or in the cloud, which provide security and easy portability.
After a disaster hits, photographs and videos of a home or business’s contents can help support claims for insurance or tax benefits. All property, especially expensive and high- value items, should be recorded. The IRS disaster-loss workbooks can help individuals (.pdf) and businesses (.pdf) compile lists of belongings or business equipment.
Employer fiduciary bonds
Employers using payroll service providers should check if their provider has a fiduciary bond in place to protect the employer in the event of a default by provider. Employers are encouraged to create an Electronic Federal Tax Payment System account at EFTPS.gov to monitor their payroll tax deposits and receive email alerts.
Know where to go
Reconstructing records after a disaster may be required for tax purposes, getting federal assistance or insurance reimbursement. Find out if financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically. Taxpayers who have lost some or all of their records during a disaster should visit IRS’ Reconstructing Records webpage.
IRS is ready to help
Taxpayers living in a federally declared disaster can visit the IRS Tax Relief in Disaster Situations webpage or Around the Nation on IRS.gov and check for the available disaster tax relief. The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies filing and payment relief. Affected taxpayers can call 866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues.
A taxpayer impacted by a disaster outside of a federally declared disaster area may qualify for disaster relief. This includes taxpayers who are not physically located in a disaster area, but whose records necessary to meet a filing or payment deadline postponed during the relief period are located in a covered disaster area.
For more information about National Preparedness Month, visit Ready.gov/September.