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If you have ever been in a disaster or home fire, you know that one of the most daunting tasks afterward is the reconstruction of financial and tax records.  This is problematic because without the proper records and documents, how do you prove your losses, which may be essential for tax purposes, getting federal assistance, or insurance reimbursement?

Here are several things any taxpayer can do to help reconstruct or get copies of specific types of records after a disaster:

Tax Return Transcripts

  • Taxpayers can get free tax return transcripts by using the Get Transcript tool on IRS.gov. They can also call 800-908-9946 to order them by phone.

Proof of loss

  • To establish the extent of the damage, take photographs or videos of affected property as soon as possible after the disaster.

  • L look on your mobile phone or social media posts for pictures that show the property before the disaster damaged it.

  • If you can’t find photographs or videos of your property, a simple method to help with remembering what items have been lost is to sketch pictures of each room that was affected.

  • You can support the valuation of property with photographs, videos, canceled checks, receipts, or other evidence.

  • If you bought items using a credit card or debit card, past statements from their credit card company or bank can be obtained from the company or banking institution.

Records about property

  • You can contact the title company, escrow company, or bank that handled the purchase of your home to get copies of appropriate documents.

  • If you made improvements to your home, contact the contractors who did the work to see if records are available. If possible, get statements from the contractors to verify the work and cost. Also, written accounts from friends and relatives who saw the house before and after any improvements can be useful.

  • For inherited property, check court records for probate values. If a trust or estate existed, you  can contact the attorney who handled the trust.

  • When no other records are available, check the county assessor’s office for old records that might address the value of the property.

  • There are several resources that can help someone determine the current fair-market value of most cars on the road. These resources are all available online and at most libraries. They 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 2194, Disaster Resource Guide for Individuals and Businesses
Small Business Administration

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