February 1, 2010

Steps to Protect Your Records from the Effects of Bad Weather

Steps to Protect Your Records from the Effects of Bad Weather Tax & Business

Hurricanes and power outages can wreak havoc on files and records. When bad weather strikes, are your records protected? Follow our plan below to ensure the safety of your files.

1. Backup your Files Electronically

Over the past ten years, technology has made it much easier to create back up files. Gone are the days when enormous filing cabinets and filing rooms are the only way of storing files. Now, taxpayers can access records with the simple click of a button. Many documents such as bank statements, tax returns, and insurance policies are now made available electronically or over the internet.

Creating back up sets is a vital way of safeguarding your records. When documents are only provided on paper, it is a good idea to scan the documents into a PDF format on your computer. Once you have the electronic file you can easily store it on an external hard drive, CD, or DVD to save your files in a separate entity from your computer such as a safe deposit box.

2. Create Documentation of Valuables

In preparing for bad weather and disaster, it is a good idea to photograph or videotape the contents of your home. This is especially important when it comes to items of higher value. These records can help an individual prove the market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims. The documentation should then be stored outside of the home, in a vault or with a friend or family member who lives outside of your area.

3. Annually Update Emergency Plans

Personal and business situations can change vastly over time and preparations need to be adjusted accordingly. Every year, emergency plans should be reevaluated to ensure they meet the needs of the ever-changing circumstance. Examples of situations that will change the condition of the home or business are location change, hiring and firing of employees, and the change of a business’s major function. The emergency plans should be updated and employees should be informed of modifications.

The IRS is ready to help and can provide taxpayers with back copies of returns or other records. For more information, contact your Marcum Tax Professional or when disaster strikes, an affected taxpayer can call an IRS Specialist trained in disaster related issues.

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