Safeguard Your Records with these Tips
Some natural disasters are more common in the summer, but major events such as winter freezes, tornadoes and fires can strike at any time. It’s always a good idea to plan for what to do in case of a disaster to protect your records. Here are some basic steps you can take right now to prepare.
1. Backup Records Electronically
Many people receive bank statements by email. This is a good way to secure your records. You can also scan tax records and insurance policies onto an electronic format. You can use an external hard drive, CD or DVD to store important records. Be sure you back up your files and keep them in a safe place offset. If a disaster strikes your home or business, it may affect a wide area. If that happens you may not be able to retrieve your records.
2. Document Valuables
Take photos or videos of the contents of your home or business. These visual records can help you prove the value of your lost items. They may help with insurance claims or casualty loss deductions on your tax return. You should store them with a friend or relative who lives out of the area. The IRS has a disaster loss workbook, Publication 584, which can help taxpayers compile a room-by-room list of belongings.
3. Update Emergency Plans
Review your emergency plans every year. Personal and business situations change over time, as do preparedness needs, so update them when your situation changes. Make sure you have a way to get severe weather information and have a plan for what to do if threatening weather approaches. In addition, when employers hire new employees or when a company or organization changes functions, plans should be updated accordingly and employees should be informed of the changes.
4. Get Copies of Tax Returns or Transcripts
Use Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, to replace lost or destroyed tax returns or needed information from your return. You can also file Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript or Form 4506-T, request for Transcript of Tax Return. If you need assistance filing this form out, please call.
5. Check on Fiduciary Bonds
Employers who use payroll service providers should ask the provider if it has a fiduciary bond in place. The bond could protect the employer in the event of the default by the payroll service provider.
6. Secure and Relocate
To protect patient records during natural disasters, secure and relocate your records if possible and necessary. You should lock and protect your paper records in fireproof and waterproof containers or cabinets and store them in high and dry areas. You should also disconnect and move your electronic devices and media to safe locations or use battery-powered or solar-powered devices if available. You should also consider transferring your records to another facility or provider if your location is unsafe or inaccessible.
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