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September is National Record Preparedness Month

Posted on September 5, 2022

September’s hurricane season comes and goes here in Indy without even the slightest eyebrow raise. Hoosiers tend to look skyward in June, our peak month for tornados. That said, home disasters can happen anytime.

For example, a neighbor had a grill fire on her back deck just last month. Firefighters were there within minutes, but the fire still shot up the cedar siding, sending smoke and water damage into her second story home office. Of course, that was where she kept her records, which were soggy, smokey and beyond legible.

With that in mind, the team at Teipen CPA Group urges everyone — from individuals to organizations and businesses — to develop an emergency record preparedness plan. Because, you just never know.

Here’s what to do this month to protect your records:

  • Secure and duplicate essential tax, wills and financial documents.
  • Create lists of property, room by room.
  • Update your insurance records.
  • Know exactly where to find information if a disaster occurs.

In the aftermath of a disaster, having the updated documents and other information readily available can help you apply for the relief available from the IRS and other agencies.

Disaster assistance and emergency relief can help individuals and businesses recover financially from the impact of a disaster (such as a flood or a tornado) especially when the federal government declares their location to be a major disaster area.

Document with security in mind

  • Keep critical original documents (such as birth certificates, deeds and titles) inside fire and waterproof containers.
  • Tax returns, insurance policies and other similarly important items should be safely contained in more than one location.
  • If original documents are available only on paper, try scanning them into a digital file format. Saving them in a secure digital location, like a cloud-based storage application, can provide added security and portability.
  • Maintain a detailed inventory of your property and business contents.
  • Taxpayers can take photos or videos to record their possessions but should also write down descriptions including year, make and model numbers, where appropriate.
  • After a disaster hits, this kind of documentation can help support claims for insurance or tax benefits. The IRS disaster-loss workbooks can helpindividuals and businesses compile lists of belongings or business equipment.

If you own a business

Employers using payroll service providers should check if their provider has a fiduciary bond in place to protect the employer against a possible provider default.

Most employers already use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to make their federal tax deposits and business tax payments. Because these payments can easily be made either by phone or online, EFTPS offers an especially convenient option when a disaster may displace many businesses and their employees.

Any business that doesn’t have one can create an EFTPS account by visiting EFTPS.gov.

Know where to go 

Reconstructing records after a disaster may be required for tax purposes, getting federal assistance or insurance reimbursement.

Most financial institutions can provide statements and documents electronically, an option that can aid the reconstruction process. For tips on reconstructing records, visit IRS’s Reconstructing Records.

IRS is ready to help

What if your home is along the path of a flood or tornado? Following a federal disaster declaration, the IRS often postpones tax filing and tax payment deadlines for those who qualify.

The IRS identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and automatically applies filing and payment relief. This means taxpayers whose IRS address of record is located in the disaster area do not need to contact the IRS to get disaster tax relief.

Eligible individuals and businesses located outside the disaster area can request relief by calling the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227.

Your best bet is to be prepared for any kind of disaster – which is why the IRS reminds taxpayers during National Preparedness Month.