The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season begins on Saturday, June 1 and ends on Saturday, November 30. Therefore, we are reminding taxpayers to be prepared for hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Do you need help with your financial records after a disaster?

The IRS published a fact sheet that discusses the challenges encountered by taxpayers when putting together their financial records in the aftermath of a hurricane, wildfire or other catastrophes. The IRS notes that reconstructing these records soon after a disaster “may be essential for properly documenting a tax-deductible loss, supporting various tax-related transactions, or getting federal assistance or insurance reimbursement.”

Preparing for natural disasters

The IRS has posted tips with suggestions including:

  • Update your emergency plan annually to reflect changes in your personal and business life
  • Make electronic copies of key documents
  • Take video or photograph inventory of your valuables
  • Keep an accessible copy of your prior-year tax return
  • Get a copy of your transcript by going to IRS.gov and using the Get Transcript application. By selecting “Get Transcript Online,” you can immediately view, print or download your transcript.

In a federally declared disaster, taxpayers can call 866-562-5227 to speak to an IRS specialist for help. (Tax Tip 2018-130)

5/22/19: A bipartisan task force within the U.S. Senate Finance Committee will examine tax relief related to the aftermath of natural disasters. The task force was announced in a press release by ranking members of the Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The purpose is to examine whether there should be “a core package of tax relief provisions that should be available when natural disasters strike.” The policies that will be examined are contained in a publication, titled “Background Related to Certain Temporary and Disaster Relief Tax Provisions” (JCX-22-19).

For more information on disaster losses, refer to these IRS publications

  • Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts – This has information on figuring your casualty loss deduction.
  • Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook – This can help individuals make a list of stolen or damaged personal-use property and figure the loss. It has a room-by-room listing to help recreate an inventory and figure the loss on the home and its contents and any motor vehicles.
  • Publication 584-B, Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook – This is available to help businesses list stolen or damaged business or income-producing property and to figure the loss.

LBMC tax tips are provided as an informational and educational service for clients and friends of the firm. The communication is high-level and should not be considered as legal or tax advice to take any specific action. Individuals should consult with their personal tax or legal advisors before making any tax or legal-related decisions. In addition, the information and data presented are based on sources believed to be reliable, but we do not guarantee their accuracy or completeness. The information is current as of the date indicated and is subject to change without notice.

(Updated May 22, 2019; Originally posted August 21, 2018)