The IRS has reminded taxpayers to create or review emergency preparedness plans for surviving natural disasters. The Service has designated the month of May to include National Hurricane Preparedness Week and National Wildfire Awareness Month. Further, the IRS has advised taxpayers to:
- secure key documents such as tax returns, birth certificates, deeds, titles and insurance policies inside waterproof containers in a secure space, make their copies and scanning them for backup storage on electronic media such as a flash drive;
- record all property, especially expensive and high value items. The IRS disaster-loss workbooks in Publication 584 can help individuals and businesses compile lists of belongings or business equipment;
- employers who use payroll service providers should check fiduciary bonds as they could protect the employer in the event of default by the payroll service provider; and
- reconstruct records after a disaster for tax purposes, getting federal assistance or insurance reimbursement. Further, taxpayers who have lost some or all their records during a disaster can visit IRS’s Reconstructing Records webpage as one of their first steps.
Additionally, the Service has urged taxpayers to not call the IRS to request disaster relief because it automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies filing and payment relief. Taxpayers impacted by a disaster with tax-related questions can contact the IRS at 866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues. Taxpayers who do not reside in a covered disaster area, but suffered impact from a disaster should call 866-562-5227 to find out if they qualify for disaster tax relief and to discuss other available options. Moreover, taxpayers can find complete disaster assistance and emergency relief details for both individuals and businesses on the Service’s Around the Nation webpage. Lastly, the taxpayers can also visit the FEMA Prepare for Disasters web page to Build a Kit of emergency supplies.