IRS: Protect your documents in case disaster strikes
Weather • Agency offers tips, resources in wake of rash of natural calamities.
Published: June 4, 2013 08:39AM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:32PM

With deadly tornadoes, destructive flooding and raging wildfires part of the seasonal landscape, the Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers to protect their valued assets.

Here are a few tips to help you weather a disaster:

Keep a record • Taking photos or video of your big-ticket belongings can greatly help with insurance and recovery claims. Give a copy to a friend or family member who lives out of the area.

Back up everything • Make scanned copies of original tax returns, bank statements and insurance papers, and store them on a thumb drive or burn to a CD. Keep the electronic copy in a safe place separate from the originals.

Check on fiduciary bonds • For business owners who use payroll services, check to see if the provider has a fiduciary bond. That can protect employers if the payroll service defaults.

If you lose documents • You can order copies of old tax returns and attachments (such as W-2s) from the IRS by using Form 4506 or calling 1-866-562-5227. The IRS also has a disaster loss workbook (Publication 584), as well as podcasts and YouTube videos on disaster assistance (available in English, Spanish and American Sign Language) at