As Storms Approach, Back Up Business Data


Flooding from Hurricane Harvey along the Gulf Coast and the approaching threats posed by Hurricane Irma to Florida prompted the Internal Revenue Service to remind employers to safeguard records and develop emergency plans to ensure the continuity of businesses and the safety of employees.

Employers should keep duplicates of critical documents, including tax returns, bank statements, and payroll records, in a waterproof container located in a safe place away from the storage areas where the original documents are kept, the IRS said Sept. 6 in a news release (IR-2017-145).

Additionally, copies of documents may be stored electronically in a computer previous hitcloudnext hit network, downloaded to an external hard drive or USB flash drive, or copied onto a compact disc or DVD, it said.

Businesses that contract with payroll-service providers should ask if fiduciary bonds are in place that would protect the employer in case of default by the payroll service provider.

Although the recommendations were spurred by the hurricane season, which started June 1 and ends Nov. 30, the IRS said employers should annually review emergency plans. For example, after hiring new employees or when a company’s organization changes, employers should update continuity plans and inform employees of the changes.

In the case of a federally declared disaster, an affected taxpayer may call the IRS at 866-562-5227 to speak with a specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues.

Employers may request back copies of previously-filed tax returns and attachments, including Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, by filing Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. 

Transcripts that show most line items on the returns may be ordered through the Get Transcript link on, by calling 800-908-9946 or by using Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript, or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

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