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For Electric Cooperative Members

Protect Financial Information Before a Disaster Strikes

Don’t forget this important part of emergency preparations

In recognition of National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 5–11, and National Wildfire Awareness Month, it’s a good time to protect important tax and financial information as part of a complete emergency preparedness plan.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has declared disasters for landslides, severe storms, tornadoes and more, which can have an immediate and lasting impact. Year-round preparation is critically important, and observing Wildfire Awareness Month provides a perfect opportunity for an annual assessment of readiness.

These tips can help you protect personal financial and tax information for a complete preparedness plan. You’re also encouraged to visit for additional disaster information.

Safeguard Documents

Original documents such as Social Security cards, birth certificates, deeds and tax returns should be placed inside a waterproof and fireproof container in a safe space. You’re encouraged to make copies of these important documents and store them in a secondary location such as a safe deposit box.

In addition, scanned documents can be stored on a flash drive for easy portability.

Take Stock

All property, especially high-value items, should be recorded.

A simple list with current photos or videos may also help support claims for insurance or tax benefits after a disaster. The IRS disaster loss workbooks in Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook (Personal-Use Property) and Publication 584-B, Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook can help individuals and businesses make lists of belongings or business equipment.

Start by Reconstructing

Reconstructing or replacing records after a disaster may be required for tax purposes, claiming federal assistance or insurance reimbursement. The more accurately the loss is estimated, the more loan and grant money there may be available.

There’s Help

After FEMA issues a major disaster or an emergency measures declaration, the IRS may postpone certain tax filing and payment deadlines for those who reside or have a business in certain counties affected by the disaster. The IRS provides details on states and counties that have been issued relief on the IRS disaster relief webpage.

Individuals in the affected areas do not need to call to request this relief. The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies filing and payment relief. Those impacted by a disaster can contact the IRS at 1-866-562-5227 to ask tax-related questions.

Taxpayers who do not reside or have a business in a covered disaster area but suffered impact from a disaster should call 1-866-562-5227 to find out if they qualify for disaster tax relief and to discuss other available options.