Preparing For A Natural Disaster
As we officially enter the summer months, Florida residents may want to reconsider either creating or reviewing their emergency preparedness plans, which includes taking steps to protect important tax-related information. Given the impact of hurricanes, tropical storms, flooding, land and mudslides, and winter storms on Florida over the last few years, there is no better time to make or update an emergency plan than the present.
Secure and Make Copies of Important Documents
In preparing for potential natural disasters this summer, Florida residents should consider taking steps to secure important tax-related documents, placing them inside waterproof containers in a secure space. This includes original:
- Tax returns;
- Birth certificates;
- Important deeds; and
- Titles and insurance policies.
Duplicates of these documents should also be made and if possible, kept with a trusted person or family members who live outside of the taxpayer’s area. Scanning these documents and storing them on electronic media is another option that can provide taxpayers with both security and portability.
Take Note of Valuables and Equipment
Taking photos and videos of a home or business’s contents can also be used to help support claims for tax or insurance benefits after a natural disaster. To this end, taxpayers should consider recording all of their assets, on camera if possible, particularly those that are expensive or of high value, including furniture and business equipment.
Check Fiduciary Bonds
Business owners who use payroll service providers to compensate their employees may also want to take the additional step of determining whether the provider has a fiduciary bond in place. If it does, this bond can help protect employers in the event that the payroll service provider is forced to default because of a natural disaster.
Even taxpayers who use the greatest care in preparing for a natural disaster could end up needing to reconstruct certain records for tax purposes, or in order to obtain federal assistance or insurance reimbursement. For individual taxpayers this could involve ordering transcripts of previous returns, taking photos of property damage after the disaster, finding the current property tax statement for land-versus-building ratios, establishing a fair market value for damaged property, reviewing insurance policies, assessing past bank statements, and checking with mortgage companies for appraisals in the area. Taxpayers may also need to check court records for probate values, or speak with an attorney about a trust or estate. Business owners may need to take the additional steps of listing lost inventories, obtaining copies of invoices from suppliers, checking deposits, and collecting copies of the prior year’s tax returns, sales tax reports, and business licenses. For help determining whether you qualify for disaster relief, reach out to our legal team today.
Schedule a One-on-One Consultation with a Tax Professional
After the federal government issues a disaster declaration, the IRS often postpones certain filing and payment deadlines and may also offer other tax benefits to qualifying individuals. To speak with an experienced tax attorney, CPA, and former FBI Special Agent about whether you could qualify for these benefits, please call Ronald Cutler, P.A. at 386-490-9949 today.