Though last month was officially National Preparedness Month, it’s sad to think that just about every month these days reminds us about preparing for disasters, from hurricanes on the East Coast to wildfires in the West to tornadoes in the middle.

Last year, over 3 million people were displaced from their homes by natural disasters. And many more were caught unprepared for such a reality. 

These figures serve as a stark reminder of the unexpected turns life can take, especially when there’s a 60% chance, based on past data, that a major disaster will touch our lives at some point.

Not a fun topic to think about, but a real one.

If you’ve faced a disaster this year, you know they not only take a toll on your emotional well being but can also upset your financial stability. Amid the chaos of evacuation alerts, home damages, and misplaced belongings, the immediate concerns are understandably safety, shelter, and other basic needs. 

But what about when financial realities start to set in?

That’s what I’d like to discuss today…

Preparing for Disasters: A Guide for Phoenix Valley Residents
“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” – George S. Patton

Though you’ll likely feel overwhelmed no matter when a natural disaster hits you, preparing for the possibility will help you bounce back a little easier.

First of all, to help bring you peace of mind, the IRS will actually work with you when it comes to your taxes. Though it can sometimes feel like they aren’t sensitive to your particular needs, they do understand some of the strain in these situations. It’s why they almost always issue tax relief in disaster scenarios. This relief comes in the form of:

  1. Extended deadlines: Recognizing the challenges of meeting tax deadlines during disasters, the IRS often extends the due dates, giving you extra time to take care of your tax obligations.
  2. Eased access to retirement funds: You might be able to use your retirement funds without the usual penalties to help you with immediate financial needs. 
  3. Reduced penalties: In some cases, the IRS may reduce or waive penalties for late tax payments resulting from the disaster.

There’s more specific guidance on dates and relief details on their Tax Relief in Disaster Situations page. You’re also welcome to give my Phoenix Valley office a call to get some answers on how to incorporate the IRS’s guidance into your tax plans, (602) 861-0033.

Beyond just a financial reprieve, the IRS has some additional insights for you in preparing for a disaster:

– Secure your Documents: Store essentials like tax records, insurance policies, and contracts in waterproof containers. Digital backups, either on the cloud or an external drive, can be a lifesaver.

– Document Everything: Snapping photos or recording videos of your Maricopa County home and possessions now can make insurance claims and tax deductions easier later.

– Plan and Communicate: Make sure everyone in your circle knows the game plan. Where do you meet if separated? What’s the best escape route?

If you or someone you love was affected by a disaster this year, you’ll want to find some way to recover documents that you may have lost. That can feel like a big task when you’re sorting through things to figure out what was actually lost. 

But, there is some guidance on how to do this (which I’ll go into more detail on in an upcoming article). The Reconstructing Records after a Natural Disaster or Casualty Loss page tells you some specific steps to take — things like contacting county officials for land records or reaching out to brokers for misplaced stock certificates.

Beyond that, there’s also the potential to claim disaster-related losses on your tax return, especially if your area gets tagged as a federal disaster zone. This means that losses not covered by your insurance might earn you some relief when tax time rolls around. Plus, you get to choose whether to claim them this year or retroactively for the last one.

 

Preparing for a disaster isn’t about expecting the worst; it’s about ensuring we’re in the best position to recover and rebuild when the unexpected occurs. With the right preparations, the path to recovery can be much less daunting. The important thing to remember is you’re not alone. And I’ll be here to offer you support and guidance through it:
602-861-0033

 

Preparing for tomorrow

Charles Hirlinger