Thursday, May 15, 2014



As we observe the early start of fire season in California, we note the need for taxpayers to go into “Recovery Mode” immediately, even as you are evacuating. Here are some tips from this blog and from the United Policyholders website.

As you evacuate here is a list of documents you should protect:

Financial documents to consider securing and recording in digital form:
ü  Cost records for real property (escrow statements) and major items of contents, including jewelry, cameras, electronics and art works.
Record the cost of significant assets in every room of your home and office in a ledger or journal.
ü  Wills, and living trust documents, grant deeds and property escrow settlement statements.
ü Power of attorney, living will (health directive) / medical powers.
ü  List of emergency contacts, including doctors, financial advisers, and family members.
ü Birth, death, and marriage certificates.
ü Copies of drivers’ licenses.
ü Copies of important medical information, including your health insurance card, doctor’s name and phone number, immunization records, and prescriptions (including prescriptions for glasses and contacts).
ü List of insurance policies (life, health, disability, long-­term care, auto, homeowners, renters), including the type, company, policy number, and name of insured, agent contact information, claims contact information.
ü Copies of insurance policies including declaration pages.
ü Adoption papers.
ü  Passports.
ü Social Security cards.
ü Divorce and child custody papers.
ü Military records.
ü  Mortgage/property deeds.
ü Stock and bond certificate-s.
ü Retirement account records.
ü  Recent checking, savings, and investment account statements.
ü Vehicle and boat title documents.
ü  Inventory of your possessions.
ü Warranties and receipts for major purchases Credit card records.
ü Recent pay stubs and employee benefits information.
ü  Rental agreement/lease and/or mortgage documents.
ü  Safe deposit box information (location, contents, and key number).
ü  Store negatives of photographs, protected in plastic sleeves, separate from the prints.
ü  Income tax (federal and state) returns for past seven years, plus any older returns that may include important continuing information.

After you evacuate there are tasks to start working on.

Here is a checklist from “AFTER A CATASTROPHIC EVENT OR DISASTER” the Tab at the top of this blog. Follow these steps to make your family safe and start your recovery:

Call emergency services as needed. However, lines will be overloaded and wait times may be excessive for assistance needed.

Important steps to take immediately. This list provides a head start before you discuss your situation with a tax professional.
First, Check on the health and safety of any persons or pets,

Second, Secure the impacted area;

If you are not home or at your office, attempt to contact family and business associates to verify their physical health and safety

Locate and test emergency camera.

Take measures to protect the physical security of any intact assets, If safe to do so:

Turn off Gas – IF SAFE TO TURN OFF

Turn off Water – IF SAFE TO TURN OFF

Turn off electricity – IF SAFE TO TURN OFF

Photograph as much damaged and undamaged areas as is safe to do.

Take notes and journal all conversations.

Use tarps to cover exposed areas

Remove valuable assets from vulnerable areas, if safe to do so.

Then: Mitigation - Stop or reduce continuing damage.

Call family and friends in immediate area to check on their well-being and communicate your own status. Lines may be overloaded or down.

Call out-of-area friends and family to report status and set up line of communication. You may have to wait for them to contact you.

Locate emergency supplies. Evaluate the condition and quantities of thee items. Remove them to a safe place if necessary.

Retrieve important documents

Contact out-of-area people entrusted with documentation back-ups. Verify condition and date of back-ups.

Start and maintain a record of all your financial transactions.

Because of insurance claim and tax benefits that may turn out to be available, you should keep records of all extra costs that you incur as a result of the disaster to keep your family safe and secure or your business back to an operational state. These will fall into three categories:

Include debris removal, clean-up costs and any expenses that you may incur for experts who assist you in the process of establishing your loss for tax and insurance purposes. Depending on the terms of any insurance, some or all of these costs may be reimbursed.

Record all expenditures related to replacing any items lost, whether they are personal property (contents) or structure related costs.

Validate credentials and reference check experts

Make detail notes in your journal of all conversations. Identify the time point of all conversations and events. The time sequence may later be important information.

Especially for events that occur late in the year, contact your tax professional to determine the time-frames that sensitive tax reporting may be required. Additionally, certain non-income tax deadlines may be extended due to the event.

Preserve All Evidence of the event. Photograph evidence before and during clean-up. Physical evidence can be moved if a hazard, but not destroyed.

Yes you will have many tasks to complete after the fire is out and you can return to your homes and businesses. To maximize your positive outcome from a tax perspective, there are tasks you need to complete. See:

This is an entry on this blog at (March 3, 2014 post date):

You can also see another version of this list at the United Policyholders website:
Tax Tips for Disaster Survivors

And as you address your rights under you insurance coverage, check out these posts on the United Policyholders website:
Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Public Adjuster


If you have questions to ask this blogger,
Call: (805) 497-4411,  or Write: E-mail

JOHN TRAPANI assists both taxpayers directly and advises taxpayers’ tax professionals.
This material was contributed by John Trapani. A Certified Public Accountant who has assisted taxpayers since 1976, in analyzing and reporting transactions of the type covered in this material.  

© 2014, John Trapani, CPA,
All rights to reproduce or quote any part of the chapter in any other publication are reserved by the author. Republication rights limited by the publisher of the book in which this chapter appears also apply.


Certified Public Accountant

2975 E. Hillcrest Drive, #403

Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

(805) 497-4411       E-mail


It All Adds Up For You

Internal Revenue Service Circular 230 Disclosure
This is a general discussion of tax law. The application of the law to specific facts may involve aspects that are not identical to the situations presented in this material. Relying on this material does not qualify as tax advice for purpose of mounting a defense of a tax position with the taxing authorities
The analysis of the tax consequences of any event is based on tax laws in effect at the time of the event.
This material was completed on the date of the posting


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