IRS - What Can You Do to Protect your Personal Information During Natural Disasters?
Due to the storms causing extensive damage in and around the Fort Lauderdale area, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers to protect important tax documents and financial information as part of an emergency preparedness plan.
So far in 2023, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared disasters for landslides, cave-ins, severe storms, tornadoes, and much more. Disasters can have an immediate impact on people, organizations, and businesses. Last year there were declared disasters for hurricanes, blizzards, floods, and more. Year-round preparedness is vital and observing Hurricane Preparedness Week and National Wildfire Awareness Month provides a perfect opportunity for an annual preparedness assessment.
These tips will help taxpayers protect personal financial and tax information for a complete preparation plan.
Protect important documents; make copies
Original documents such as tax returns, social security cards, deeds, titles, and more should be placed inside waterproof containers in a secure space. Taxpayers should also make copies and keep them in another safe place such as a safe deposit box or with a trusted person who lives outside the taxpayer's area. Additionally, scanned documents can be stored on a flash drive for easy portability.
Document valuables and equipment
All assets, especially high-value items, must be documented. A simple listing with current photos or videos can also help support claims for insurance or tax benefits after a disaster.
File reconstruction may be required after a disaster for tax purposes, obtaining federal assistance, or insurance reimbursement. The more accurately the loss is estimated, the more loan and grant money may be available.
Employers must verify fiduciary bonds
Employers who use payroll service providers should ask the provider if they have an established fiduciary relationship in the event of default by the payroll service provider.
IRS can provide tax relief after a disaster
After FEMA issues a disaster declaration, the IRS may postpone certain tax filing and payment deadlines for taxpayers residing or doing business in some counties. The IRS provides details about the states and counties that have received relief on the IRS Disaster Relief page.
Taxpayers in affected areas do not have to call to apply for this relief. The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies for filing and payment relief. Those affected by a disaster, with tax-related questions can contact the IRS at 866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist that is trained to handle disaster-related issues.
Taxpayers who do not reside in a covered disaster area, but were struck by a disaster should call 866-562-5227 to find out if they qualify for disaster tax relief and to discuss other available options.
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If you have been affected by last month's storm and need a trusted CPA, feel free to stop by our Coral Gables, Brickell or Fort Lauderdale offices to speak with us.