Hurricane season is here, and tropical cyclones are revving up. The season will last through November 30, so if you’re located near the Atlantic coast, you’ll want to make sure your records and data are secure.
The IRS suggests the following steps to prevent losing something important.
Create an Electronic Backup. Important records and documents can be scanned and stored online or on a USB flash drive. If you’re using a physical storage device like a flash drive, keep it in a location other than your office. You’ll want to keep backups of bank statements, tax returns, and insurance policies.
Document Valuables. In the event of a disaster, the insurance company is going to need a list of what you’re claiming. The IRS has a disaster loss workbook, Publication 584, to help people compile a room-by-room list of belongings. Photographs or video can also be helpful. Again, be sure to store documentation and photos or video in a safe location outside harm’s way.
Update Emergency Plans. Everyone needs to have a plan for different types of emergency situations. Review your plan annually to take into account any changes in your life or business.
Check on Fiduciary Bonds. If you use a payroll service, you can ask your provider if they have a fiduciary bond in place. The bond could protect you in the event of default by the payroll service provider if the provider experiences a disaster.
If the worst does happen, and you lose important information, the IRS invites you to call 1-866-562-5227to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues. Some documents can be recovered, such as back copies of previously-filed tax returns and all attachments, including W-2s.
The best time to prepare for natural disasters is before they happen, so take a few minutes and be sure you’re ready.