If you are in path of Hurricane Isaac, you should not be reading this! You should be getting to safety. The blog will be here when you are safe.
With any luck, you, your family and all your possessions will come through undamaged. If you do suffer property damage from Isaac or from another natural disaster, I suggest you order or download Pub 2194 from the IRS. This is a comprehensive book that answers most taxpayers’ question about lost records, filing returns and Form 4684 for casualty and theft losses. Included in the publication is not only info from all the publications dealing with casualty losses, the special rules if the loss happens in a Federally declared disaster area, but worksheets that will help you track your losses. If you’re still recovering from a prior disaster, you might want to grab a copy of this publication also. It’s a really good resource at a very bad time. There used to be separate versions; one for personal losses and one for business losses but no more. The same publication is used no matter what type of loss you have. I would, however, use separate copies if you suffered both a personal and a business loss.
Also, keep an ear open to hear what areas are declared Federal Disaster Areas. The rules in a Federal Disaster Area change and taxpayers have a little more flexibility about when they can report the loss. Check with your tax preparer or call the special IRS Disaster Hotline at 1-866-562-5227 for questions about your specific loss.
For those of us not in Isaac’s path, this is the time to think about disaster preparedness. The IRS has a page dedicated to preparing for a disaster which includes a video and a lot of good advice. FEMA also has lot of info on disaster preparedness at ready.gov. Hurricane season is just starting and tornado and fire season are still going strong so this is a good time for planning for something we never hope will happen.