Planning for Disasters

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Get A Closer Look at some simple disaster preparedness tips that everyone should follow to ensure they protect their critical tax and financial documents.

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By Chuck Rettig
CL-22-07, May 5, 2022

In many ways, May is a time to contemplate preparation. Spring cleaning, mulching garden beds, and switching out winter clothes for summer ones are some of the ways we begin preparing for change this time of year. But there are other important things to prepare for in certain areas of the country where fires, hurricanes and other natural disasters can impact residents.

To recognize National Wildfire Preparedness Month in May and Hurricane Preparedness Week this week, I’d like to give you A Closer Look at what you can do to prepare for potential disasters from the aspect of safeguarding your tax and financial records and the resources and tax provisions the IRS has that may help individuals and businesses if they are unfortunately impacted by a disaster.

When disasters strike, families and businesses are often overwhelmed by the work needed to rebuild, recover and meet their financial obligations. We are always here to help them work through some of these difficulties. We share guidance on extensions for filing federal tax returns and payment of taxes and helping people claim casualty losses resulting from the damage, destruction, or loss of their property. Since the start of 2022, the IRS has announced tax relief for disaster victims in Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Washington and Colorado.

Emergency Tax Relief for Disaster Locations

Special tax law provisions may help taxpayers and businesses recover financially from the impact of a disaster, especially when the federal government declares their location to be in a disaster area. Depending on the circumstances, the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes. Both individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area can get a faster refund by claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year, usually by filing an amended return. Our Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief for Individuals and Businesses page on provides answers to frequently asked questions, the latest tax relief guidance for disaster situations and news specific to local areas, primarily disaster relief or tax provisions that affect certain states.

IRS Publication 3067: IRS Disaster Assistance - Federally Declared Disaster AreaPDF provides information to individuals and businesses affected by a federally declared disaster and the assistance available to disaster victims.

Through the Disaster Relief Resource Center for Tax Professionals, we address many of the questions received from tax professionals. We've included information published by the IRS, along with links to IRS partners who may offer additional assistance. Many of our partners have provided various resources to help the payroll and practitioner community to recover and get re-established in the event of a natural disaster.

Disaster Planning

Whether you live in an area frequently impacted by disasters or not, being prepared for an event that could cause damage to your home, your personal property and important documents is critical. One of the most important things I tell family and friends to do is to safeguard their financial records. There are simple steps to help people and businesses protect financial and tax records in case of disasters, including:  

  • Using paperless recordkeeping for financial and tax records
  • Documenting valuables and business equipment
  • Creating or updating continuity of operations plans for businesses
  • Updating emergency plans

More information about these tips and other resources is available in eight languages on

IRS Employees Help the Nation When Disaster Strikes

While talking about disaster planning, I’d also like to take this time to recognize what IRS employees do to support disaster survivors. Stepping up in times of national urgency is a proud tradition of our workforce and IRS employees have, for years, delivered in times of need for the nation.

  • Since 2012, more than 10,000 IRS phone assistors have helped the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) call centers in the aftermath of hurricanes and other natural disasters, answering an estimated 1.6 million calls from storm survivors seeking help.
  • Our Stakeholder Liaison (SL) division works with local FEMA staff to provide resources and guidance to people affected by disasters. In some cases, SLs and other IRS employees help and staff FEMA sites called Disaster Recovery Centers in major disaster situations. SLs also ensure that disaster relief information is provided to the payroll and practitioner community as quickly as possible after a disaster takes place. Typically, this is through the outreach channels we’ve already established with local practitioner and payroll groups.
  • We have also had many agents from our IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) division provide their help and expertise during disasters. Last year, a team of about 20 special agents deployed to Oregon to support those fighting wildfires and special agents also assisted with the recovery from Hurricane Ida.

Many of our employees around the country have been impacted by natural disasters and know firsthand the terrible toll it takes on those who have been impacted. There are countless stories of civic-minded IRS employees personally helping in their communities when disaster strikes. I am proud of our workforce and how willing they are to respond when they’re called upon to help, both professionally and personally. We stand ready to assist taxpayers and businesses when they need us and encourage everyone to follow our tips to prepare for a disaster and ensure they maintain access to critical documents before a disaster strikes.

Commissioner Rettig

About the Author

Chuck Rettig is the 49th Commissioner of the IRS. As Commissioner, Rettig presides over the nation’s tax system, which collects more than $3.5 trillion in tax revenue each year. This revenue funds most government operations and public services. He manages an agency of about 80,000 employees and a budget of approximately $11 billion.

In leading the IRS, Rettig is focused on improving service to the nation’s taxpayers, balancing appropriate enforcement of the nation’s tax laws while respecting taxpayer rights.


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