Recovering and Recreating Tax Documents after a Disaster

When your home or business is struck by a disaster of any kind, the results can be devastating. Loss of property, damage to the structure, and potential injury and trauma are just the beginning. Even after filing claims and replacing the bulk of the property, you can continue to be impacted by the disaster for months or years after it occurs. Often, it is in these later months that the documents you lost in the disaster come to light, and you’re left trying to recover or recreate those files. If you’re trying to recover lost tax documents, here are a few suggestions.

Getting Copies of Past Returns

Many individuals need physical copies of past tax returns for a variety of reasons. If these were lost in a fire, flood, or other disaster, you can request new copies of your returns in several ways:

  • Online – Simply use the IRS’s Get Transcript tool to get free digital copies of your tax transcripts.
  • Phone – You can request transcripts over the phone by calling 800-908-9946 and following the prompts.
  • Mail – Finally, you can fill out and mail in Form 4506 to the IRS to have physical copies mailed back to you. If you were in a federally recognized disaster area, you can write the disaster designation (such as “HURRICANE HARVEY”) in red on the top of the form. This will expedite the process, as well as waiving the normal fee.

Our Provo accounting firm may also have copies of your past tax returns on file, if you’re one of our clients. If not, we can request the copies for you as well.

Recreating Tax-Related Business Records

While getting a copy of a past tax return is a fairly simple process, recovering all of the tax-related records for your business is a much more complicated matter. There are many different kinds of documents that you need, and as they can’t all be fully recovered, you may have to do your best to recreate them. Here are a few ways to best recreate lost business records:

  • You can recreate your list of lost inventory by requesting copies of invoices from your business’s suppliers. If possible, request invoices dating back at least one calendar year.
  • To recreate your business’s income records, you should request copies of your bank statements. The deposit records should closely reflect the sales you’ve made within the time period. Additionally, request copies of last year’s federal and state tax returns for your business to see gross sales over a period of time.
  • Details of your building can also be important in certain tax matters, and if the building and its contents were lost, you will have to do your best to recreate the building layout. Check for photos and videos of the building, inventory, and equipment on phones and cameras; ask your employees to check their devices as well. If your building is a new construction, you should be able to get the building’s plans from the contractor. If it was a preexisting building, request a copy of the purchase agreement from the broker; this will contain many of the building’s details.

Amid the other losses caused by a disaster, documents might seem like a minor issue. However, recovering these records is an important matter that will eventually need to be addressed. We hope these suggestions help to simplify this task and ease your burdens a little as you recover from your losses. If you need assistance recovering or recreating any tax-related documents, please reach out to our Provo accounting firm and one of our CPAs will be happy to assist you.