The IRS has reminded taxpayers to develop emergency preparedness plans due to the upcoming hurricane season and the ongoing threat of wildfires in some parts of the country. September is declared as the National Preparedness Month. The IRS advised taxpayers to:

  • secure critical documents such as tax returns, birth certificates, deeds, titles, and insurance policies inside waterproof containers in a secure space;
  • duplicate and scan key documents for backup storage on electronic media that provide security and easy portability, such as a flash drive, a CD, or in the cloud;
  • reconstruct records after a disaster for tax purposes, getting federal assistance or insurance reimbursement; and
  • record all property, especially expensive and high value items—the IRS disaster-loss workbooks in Publication 584 and Publication 584-B can help individuals and businesses compile lists of belongings or business equipment.

In addition, the IRS recommends the following for employers:

  • employers should create an Electronic Federal Tax Payment System account at EFTPS.gov to monitor their payroll tax deposits and receive email alerts; and
  • employers who use payroll service providers should check the payroll service provider’s fiduciary bonds as they could protect the employer in the event of default by the provider.

Taxpayers who have lost some or all their records during a disaster can visit the IRS’s Reconstructing Records webpage. In addition, taxpayers residing in a federally declared disaster can check for the available disaster tax relief on the IRS Tax Relief in Disaster Situations or Around the Nation webpages.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies filing and payment relief. Taxpayers affected by a disaster can contact the IRS at 866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues. Further, taxpayers affected by a disaster outside of a federally declared disaster area may qualify for disaster relief. This includes taxpayers who are not physically located in a disaster area but who have records essential for filing or payment deadlines postponed during the relief period that are located in a covered disaster area. In addition, a special rule allows both individuals and businesses to choose to deduct uninsured or unreimbursed disaster losses on either the tax return for the year the disaster occurred, or the return for the previous year.