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Tuesday September 18, 2018

Washington News

Washington Hotline

Protect Yourself from Hurricanes, Floods and Tornadoes

At publication time, Hurricane Florence is moving through North and South Carolina. Federal and state first responders are braving many risks to rescue trapped individuals. In addition to wind damage, there may be major floods, with up to 40 inches of rain in some parts of North and South Carolina.

In IR-2018-183, the IRS offers suggestions and guidelines to prepare for a potential natural disaster. There are several steps you may take to safeguard your key documents and high-value items.
  1. Key Documents List - Many Americans have a file at home containing important documents. You should create a list of these documents. Your key documents may include bank statements, financial and retirement records, deeds to property, titles to your vehicles, insurance policies and family records.
  2. Document Security - Some key documents may be maintained by custodians in secure data centers. Most banks and financial companies have secure data centers with multiple backups. Your personal documents should be in a safe place. If you are in a potential flood zone, you should consider using waterproof containers. You also may convert documents into an electronic file and store them on a flash drive, CD or DVD. There are services that permit storage on web servers in secure data centers, but you should consider the level of security for your selected service.
  3. High-Value Items - If you have art, jewelry, stamps, coins, antique furniture or valuable collections, it is important to keep good records. Most home insurance covers loss of personal items or damage. Some high-value items may be insured in separate policies. You will need to document your property with photos, video or other means and record the number, type and unique qualities of your personal property.

If you are in the area impacted by Hurricane Florence or another federally-declared disaster, the IRS disaster assistance line is available at 866-562-5227. An IRS specialist can help you obtain prior tax returns and forms. You will need to file IRS Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return.

Editor's Note: Nearly all areas of the nation can experience a natural disaster. The West can have earthquakes and fires. The Midwest can experience tornadoes. In the Southeast, there are hurricanes. Some natural disasters may be unexpected. Several years ago, your editor was assisting a donor and his attorney from Las Vegas. Planning was delayed when a cloudburst caused a flood and the Las Vegas attorney's office was inundated. Everyone should be prepared for unexpected natural disasters.


Published September 14, 2018
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