IRS Tips to Taxpayers Preparing for Hurricane Season

From the Desk of Lauran L. Stevenson

IRS Tips to Taxpayers Preparing for Hurricane Season

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1. Last week, the Internal Revenue Service offered advice to taxpayers who may be affected by these types of storms, as well as other natural disasters. The IRS also wants taxpayers to know that the agency is here to help, including offering a special toll-free hotline to people in federally declared disaster areas, staffed with IRS specialists trained to handle disaster-related issues.

• Don’t Forget to Update Emergency Plans: Because a disaster can strike any time, be sure to review emergency plans annually. Personal and business situations change over time, as do preparedness needs.

• Create Electronic Copies of Key Documents: Taxpayers can help themselves by keeping a duplicate set of key documents including bank statements, tax returns, identifications and insurance policies in a safe place such as a waterproof container and away from the original set.

• Document Valuables: It’s a good idea to photograph or videotape the contents of any home, especially items of higher value. Documenting these items ahead of time will make it easier to claim any available insurance and tax benefits after the disaster strikes. The IRS has a disaster loss workbook, Publication 584, which can help taxpayers compile a room-by-room list of belongings.

• Check on Fiduciary Bonds: Employers who use payroll service providers should ask the provider if it has a fiduciary bond in place. The bond could protect the employer in the event of default by the payroll service provider.