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How people can reconstruct records lost in a natural disaster

Internal Revenue Service

Oct 14, 2020

Reconstructing records after a disaster is important for several reasons including insurance reimbursement and taxes. Most importantly, records can help people prove their disaster-related losses. More accurately estimated losses can help people get more recovery assistance like loans or grants.

Whether it’s personal or business property that has been lost or destroyed, here are some steps that can help people reconstruct important records.

Tax records

  • Get free tax return transcripts immediately using the Get Transcript on IRS.gov or through the IRS2Go app.
  • Order transcripts by calling 800-908-9946 and following the prompts. 

Financial statements

People can gather past statements from their credit card company or bank. These records may be available online. People can also contact their bank to get paper copies of these statements.

Property records

  • To get documents related to property, homeowners can contact the title company, escrow company or bank that handled the purchase of their home or other property.
  • 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.
  • When no other records are available, people should check the county assessor’s office for old records that might address the value of the property.
  • Car owners can research the current fair-market value for most vehicles. Resources are 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

DisasterAssistance.gov

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