Hurricane Matthew
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IRS Offers Preparedness Tips to Taxpayers in Hurricane Matthew’s Path

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Oct 6th 2016
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As Hurricane Matthew looms as a Category 4 storm off the Southeastern US coast, the IRS offers advice for safeguarding financial documents and information in the face of natural disasters.

In the case of a federally declared disaster, the IRS operates a toll-free number – (866) 562-5227 – staffed by IRS employees specially trained to deal with disaster issues.

Other tips include:

Emergency plan. Have one for homes and businesses. This means knowing evacuation routes, locations of shelters, and how the business will function when warnings are issued or damage occurs. The plan also should include how employees are contacted – and by whom – after a disaster. All of this should be updated annually and everyone should be aware of any changes.

Document protection. Make electronic copies (i.e., on a disc or flash drive) of bank statements, tax returns, identifications, and insurance policies if they are only in paper format. Keep them in a waterproof container and separate from the original documents. But in many cases, companies and financial institutions have statements and documents online.

Back copies of tax returns and all attachments, including W-2 forms, can be requested by filing Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. This information can also be found on transcripts showing most line items on returns through the Get Transcript link on IRS.gov, by calling (800) 908-9946, or by using Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

Record or document valuables. Photograph or videotape the contents of homes and businesses. This makes it easier to claim insurance and tax benefits in the aftermath of a disaster. A room-by-room list of belongings to document is included in the IRS disaster loss workbook, Publication 584.

The IRS notes that photos can help prove the fair market value of items for casualty loss and insurance claims. While the agency advises that photos be stored with people away from the disaster area, photos now can be stored electronically and also be loaded onto a flash drive.

Payroll service providers. Employers should ask providers if a fiduciary bond is in place, which could protect employers if the payroll service provider defaults.