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Four Ways to Prepare for Natural Disasters

With hurricane season well underway, it’s a good idea to think about what you can do to be prepared should a hurricane or other natural disaster strike where you live.  This high risk time can be scary, but here are four helpful tips to keep in mind.

  1. Get a Copy of Your Tax Return

There are several options available when it comes to getting your hands on a copy of your prior-year tax return.  If you went to a paid preparer, you might be able to get a copy of last year’s tax return from that same preparer.  If you used the same tax preparation software this year that you used last year, that software will likely have your prior-year tax return.  If you didn’t use the same tax preparation software this year, you may be able to return to your prior-year software and view an electronic copy of that return.

  1. Update Emergency Plans

Due to the spontaneous nature of disasters, it is a good idea to review emergency plans annually.  As personal and business situations evolve, so will your preparedness needs.  When employers hire new employees or when a company or organization changes functions, they should update plans accordingly.

  1. Create Electronic Copies of Key Documents

You should keep a duplicate set of key documents in a safe place, such as a waterproof container, and away from the original set.  Key documents includes bank statements, tax returns, identification documents, and insurance policies.

Since many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically, maintaining this duplicate set of documents can be quite easy.  If the original documents are provided only on paper, they can be scanned into a computer or otherwise stored electronically.

  1. Document Valuables

It’s a good idea for you to photograph or video the contents of your home, especially items of higher value.  Documenting these items ahead of time will make it easier to claim any available insurance and tax benefits after the disaster strikes.

Submitted by: Brian Walgamott, Director, Tax Services, Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A. CPAs. To ask Brian a question, contact him here.

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