Disasters –from floods to fires to hurricanes– are a possibility no matter where you live. They can hit at any time and without a disaster preparedness plan, your tax office could lose valuable data. Knowing how to prepare for a disaster is essential to keeping your business up and running even after a disaster strikes. Here are steps you can take to ensure your tax business is ready for anything:
Backup your TaxSlayer data
A good backup of your TaxSlayer programs and files will allow you to pick up where you left off, even if you have to get a new computer. We encourage all TaxSlayer Pro customers to backup their data frequently. If you have TaxSlayer Pro Web, good news! This step is already done for you as all of your data is automatically backed up in the cloud. We will keep the backup for 4 year’s worth of returns.
Keep paper records in a safe place – better yet, go paperless!
Any financial records or other paper records for your business should be kept in a secure place. Keeping important documents at home does not always mean they are safer! If your home is near your office, they both could be at risk of being damaged in a disaster.
For this reason and many others, we recommend using a paperless record keeping option. Scan any important documents to keep on an external drive or a secure cloud-based backup system such as DropBox Business. The paperless office feature included in TaxSlayer Pro Web and Premium make it easy to scan relevant client documents directly into your TaxSlayer Pro software, keeping clients’ documents safe and organized. The TaxesToGo app eliminates the need for paper-based client documents altogether, allowing them to securely send scanned copies with their phone. The Client Portal also allows documents to be uploaded remotely and sent to the desktop software.
In short, there are a variety of easy ways you can transition to a paperless document storage system. And if a disaster strikes your tax office, you’ll be glad you did.
Create a disaster preparedness plan
Creating a disaster preparedness plan can help keep you and your employees safe and make it easier to resume working after a disaster. Consider the following questions as you write up your plan:
- If a disaster hits while you’re in the office, what are the emergency procedures? This will vary according to the location and layout of your office and the types of disaster that are common in your geographical area. Every tax office could benefit from a plan for fires as floods as these can happen anywhere.
- If your tax office is destroyed, where will you and your employees continue working?
- If you have employees, how will you train them in your emergency procedures and disaster preparedness plan?
- How will an event such as the COVID outbreak change your business? A remote work system, like one made possible by our cloud-based tax software, makes this easy. Each employee would have access to the tax software from their home computers and could easily work from anywhere with internet access.
It is important for you to have these things figured out before a disaster occurs and communicate them to your employees.
Complete IRS Publication 584-B
After a disaster, it can become difficult to figure out what equipment and supplies were lost. The IRS Publication 584-B workbook allows you to document all equipment in your office one item at a time. It can even help you calculate your loss for things such as computers, furniture, or even vehicles.
Get familiar tax relief options for natural disasters
If a natural disaster affects your area, many of your clients will likely qualify for certain tax relief measures. Make sure that you and your employees are well versed in these tax relief options as soon as possible after a disaster hits.
This article is up to date for tax year 2021 (returns filed in 2022).