Reconstructing Tax Records After Disasters

The devastating impacts of hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and other natural disasters often include the loss of important records. You may need these records in order to file insurance claims, apply for federal disaster relief funds, or simply file your taxes. Below are several tips for reconstructing lost files.

Tax Return Transcripts

Many disaster victims qualify to receive free transcripts of past tax returns. If doing this yourself, call 1-800-908-9946 or use the IRS Get Transcript webpage to place your request. Make sure to identify the disaster that caused your loss, such as “Tropical Storm Imelda,” “Alaska Earthquake” or “Iowa Severe Winter Storm and Flooding.”

Financial Statements

Many of your bank, credit card and other financial statements may be available online. You can also request replacement paper copies from your bank or card issuing institution. These documents include records of purchases made using your credit or debit card.

In addition, many stores maintain digital copies of purchase receipts for large-ticket items, such as furniture and appliances. You may be able to obtain replacement receipts from the stores where you bought these items.

Property Records

The title company or lender that handled your purchase of your home can provide duplicate documents related to the home and its valuation. If you paid for home improvements, the contractor who completed the work can substantiate the cost of the project. Neighbors and friends can also provide testimonials relating to the before-and-after state of your home.

The value of inherited property can often be verified using either court probate records or trust records, which are generally maintained by the lawyer who managed settlement of the trust. Remember also that photos saved on your phone, tablet, social media pages or cloud storage may include important possessions in the background, helping you to document your losses.

You May Be Entitled to Federal Tax Relief

Victims of federally declared disasters may qualify for IRS automatic filing extensions, penalty waivers and other tax relief.