How to lessen the impact of disasters

Some natural disasters are more common during the summer. But because major events like hurricanes, tornadoes and fires can strike at any time, it’s a good idea to plan for what to do in case of a disaster.

You can help make your recovery easier by keeping your tax and financial records safe. Here is some basic guidance provided by the IRS:

  • Back up records electronically. Documents received by email, like bank statements, are easily secured. You can also scan tax records and insurance policies onto an electronic format. To store important records, use an external hard drive, CD or DVD. Be sure you back up your files and keep them in a safe place. If a disaster strikes your home, it may also affect a wide area. If that happens, you may not be able to retrieve your records easily.
  • Document valuables. Take photos or videos of the contents of your home or business. These visual records can help you prove the value of your lost items. They may help with insurance claims or casualty loss deductions on your tax return. You should store them with a friend or relative who lives out of the area.
  • Update emergency plans. Review your emergency plans every year, and update them when your situation changes. Make sure you have a way to get severe weather information. If threatening weather approaches, have a plan for what to do.
  • Keep copies of tax returns or transcripts. To replace lost or destroyed tax returns, visit to get Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. If you just need information from your return, you can order a free transcript online or by calling (800) 908-9946. You can also file Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

The IRS offers more information about disaster assistance on its website. Click here or click on the Disaster Relief link in the lower left of the IRS homepage.