[-- Read Time: 2 mins --]

Lions, and tigers and bears, oh my! After being pounded by severe storms, the usually calm Vere River in Tbilisi, Georgia overflowed causing zoo animals to break free and take over the streets. While it’s not every day a hippopotamus lands at your door, flooding is always a possibility during stormy weather. With June marking the start of hurricane season, ezTaxReturn is advising taxpayers to protect their records by taking 3 simple steps.

1. Backup records electronically

Download copies of important documents such as bank statements, insurance policies and tax returns onto your computer. Most companies make this information readily available to account holders as long as they create an online profile.  If you filed with ezTaxReturn, getting copies of prior year returns is fast and easy, just log into your account and save a copy from the ezDownload Center. For paper documents that aren’t kept online, scan the originals onto your computer.

Once you have the electronic versions, save it to a backup storage device such as a USB flash drive, a cloud service like Dropbox or burn them on a CD. Make sure to keep the duplicates in a waterproof container away from the originals just in case the disaster strikes a wider area than expected.

2. Document belongings

Take pictures or video of your belongings especially valuable items.  The IRS has a Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook (Publication 584) designed to help you create a room by room list of your belongings.  Your list and images will help prove fair market value for insurance or casualty loss claims if needed.

Keep this information in a safe deposit box or with a trusted family member who lives outside of your area.

3. Update emergency plans

Review your emergency plan as needed. Decide what you would do if disaster struck and make sure you practice your execution.  Families should pick a designated meeting area and an emergency contact person just in case they become separated.

If you become a disaster victim and need help with special tax related issues, the IRS disaster hotline can be reached at 866-562-5227.