You never know when a disaster can strike, so it's important to remember how to safeguard your documents before it happens. The few states I mentioned are not the only ones that have to worry about natural disasters. This is also the time of year for tornadoes in many states and forest fires can spread to residential areas before you know it. It's important for everyone to worry about making sure their important documents are safeguarded. So, here are a few tips to make sure you are prepared.
First, you should always keep an extra set of electronic records for anything important, such as tax returns and financial statements. There are many options for keeping these records such as USB devices, CD's, or DVD's. Keep these in a safe place, like a waterproof or fireproof box, or even a safety deposit box at your local bank. Many options are also available for cloud based storage which can be a great alternative in case your storage device or computer is also destroyed.
Also, be sure to document your valuables for insurance purposes. Photographs and videotapes are helpful in the event of loss during a disaster. Check out Publication 584 for more information on documenting your valuables for emergency situations.
If you are affected by a natural disaster, you can contact the IRS at 1-866-562-5227 to speak with someone trained to handle those types of issues. The IRS may also be able to provide you with copies of tax related records, but this should not be solely relied upon as your backup source for obtaining your records; the IRS only keeps copies of records for a set amount of time before they are also destroyed. Always keep in mind that you are considered solely responsible for the safekeeping of your own records, and you shouldn't rely on your CPA or bookkeeper to keep backup documents for you.
Last, but not least, always make sure your emergency evacuation and protection plans are up to date and understood well. There's nothing more important than making sure you yourself are safe and protected during a disaster.
This information was obtained from IRS Newswire Issue Number: IR-2015-83.