Tips for Preparing Financial and Tax Information for a Disaster

Individuals should be prepared for natural disasters such as wildfires, mudslides, landslides, severe thunderstorms, or tornadoes. A natural disaster is a devastating event that can have a lasting impact on you and your family. It is always good to be prepared and plan to protect your personal financial and tax information.

Key Documents Your initial priority should be protecting important documents. This may include recent tax returns, Social Security cards, birth certificates, deeds, insurance policies and medical records. These documents should be kept in a waterproof container in a secure location. You may want to make copies of the documents and store the digitized files on a portable external hard drive kept in a safe deposit box or entrusted to an individual in a different area.

Records of Your Valuables Many individuals own art, collectibles or other types of valuable personal property. It is recommended that you compile a list of your valuables and have photos or videos to catalogue the items. These photos or videos will help you support your claims for insurance proceeds or an applicable tax deduction. The IRS offers disaster loss publications for both individuals and businesses that need guidance in making a list of valuables. An individual should refer to Publication 584: Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook (Personal-Use Property). If you own a business, you may want to review Publication 584-B: Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook.

Reconstructing Records If you are a victim of a natural disaster, you may lose important financial or tax records. These could be required for federal assistance or insurance reimbursement. Many types of reimbursement require an accurate estimate of the amount of the loss. The Reconstructing Records page on is an excellent starting place if you need to rebuild your records.

Employer Fiduciary Bond Employers who use a payroll service provider should verify that there is a fiduciary bond in place. If the provider is in the natural disaster region, the organization may suffer a major business loss and default on its obligations. An employer may obtain a fiduciary bond that will protect it in the event of a disaster that causes the payroll service provider to default.

IRS Tax Relief Following a declaration of a disaster zone by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the IRS frequently postpones tax filing and payment deadlines, more information is available on the IRS Disaster Relief page on If you are in a federal disaster zone, you may qualify for filing and payment relief. Individuals who are not in the covered disaster area but are impacted by a specific disaster may still qualify for relief. If you wish to speak to a trained IRS specialist, you may call 866-562-5227 for answers to disaster-related concerns.

Tax relief in disaster situations, Internal Revenue Service, updated Apr. 4, 2024.

Keeping vital records safe can make disaster recovery easier – From the IRS

Natural disasters can strike without warning. Sometimes even the most diligent taxpayers are left without the important personal and financial records they need. People may need documentation for tax purposes, federal or state assistance programs or insurance claims.

Here are some steps that can help them reconstruct their important records.

Tax records

  • Taxpayers can get free federal tax return transcripts immediately using Get Transcript on
  • They can also order transcripts by calling 800-908-9946 and following the prompts.
  • People who use a tax professional to file taxes should keep their contact information in a safe place.

Financial statements
Financial statements from credit card companies or banks are usually available online. People can also contact their bank to get paper copies of statements.

Property records

  • Homeownersmay be able to contact the title company, escrow company or bank that handled the purchase of their home or other property to get documents related to their home.
  • Many property records are available online from tax assessors or other government agencies. Check local government websites for information.
  • Taxpayers who made home improvements can get in touch with the contractors who did the work and ask for statements to verify the work and cost. They can also get written descriptions from friends and relatives who saw the house before and after any improvements.
  • For inherited property, taxpayers can check court records for probate values. If a trust or estate existed, taxpayers can contact the attorney who handled the trust.
  • Insurance companies often keep records related to property maintained in a home. Taxpayers should keep their property insurance contacts handy.
  • Car owners can research the current fair-market value of most vehicles via resources available online and at most libraries. These include Kelley’s Blue Book, the National Automobile Dealers Association and Edmunds.

More information:
Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts
Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook
Publication 584-B, Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook
Publication 976, Disaster Relief
Small Business Administration