Hurricane Harvey aftermath
An American flag flies above a pile of flood damaged debris stripped from inside a house that was flooded by Hurricane Harvey in Spring, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Disaster is fueling a growth industry as more frequent and powerful storms lash coastal regions teeming with new homes and offices. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
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While tax records are hardly a first priority for those affected by natural disasters like those that recently struck Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, taxpayers who are victims of a disaster will need to reconstruct their records – not least to help prove and document their losses, either for tax purposes, or for getting federal assistance or insurance reimbursement.

With that in mind, the IRS created a handy list of things taxpayers can do to help get their records back in shape in the aftermath a disaster.
A resident surveys the damage to his trailer after a tree punctured the roof at the Camp Inn RV Park in Frostproof, Florida, during Hurricane Irma.
A resident surveys the damage to his trailer after a tree punctured the roof at the Camp Inn RV Park in Frostproof, Florida, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. Hurricane Irma smashed into Southern Florida as a Category 4 storm, driving a wall of water and violent winds ashore and marking the first time since 1964 the U.S. was hit by back-to-back major hurricanes. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Get transcripts
Taxpayers can get free tax return transcripts by using the Get Transcript tool on IRS.gov, or use their smartphone with the IRS2Go mobile phone app. They can also call (800) 908-9946 to order them by phone.
Residents enter their flooded home to collect personal belongings in Bonita Springs, Florida, after Hurricane Irma.
Residents enter their flooded home to collect personal belongings in Bonita Springs, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Hurricane Irma smashed into Southern Florida as a Category 4 storm, driving a wall of water and violent winds ashore and marking the first time since 1964 the U.S. was hit by back-to-back major hurricanes. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Create a visual record
To establish the extent of the damage, taxpayers should take photographs or videos as soon after the disaster as possible.
A boy and girl hug their grandmother's dogs after being rescued from rising floodwaters due to Hurricane Harvey in Spring, Texas.
A boy and girl hug their grandmothers' dogs after being rescued from rising floodwaters due to Hurricane Harvey in Spring, Texas, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. A deluge of rain and rising floodwaters left Houston immersed and helpless, crippling a global center of the oil industry and testing the economic resiliency of a state that's home to almost 1 in 12 U.S. workers. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Reach out to financial institutions
Taxpayers can contact the title company, escrow company, or bank that handled the purchase of their home to get copies of appropriate documents.
Hurricane Harvey flooding in Spring, Texas
Residents with a dog sit in the back of a truck while waiting to be rescued from rising floodwaters due to Hurricane Harvey in Spring, Texas, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. A deluge of rain and rising floodwaters left Houston immersed and helpless, crippling a global center of the oil industry and testing the economic resiliency of a state that's home to almost 1 in 12 U.S. workers. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Check insurance
Home owners should review their insurance policy, as the policy usually lists the value of a building to establish a base figure for replacement.
Contractors prepare a home ahead of Hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida.
Contractors prepare a home ahead of Hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Irma swept over islands in the Caribbean and is pummeling Puerto Rico with Florida in its sights as the Category 5 hurricane threatens to become the most expensive storm in U.S. history. Photographer: Jayme Gershen/Bloomberg
Talk to contractors
Taxpayers who made improvements to their home should contact the contractors who did the work to see if records are available. If possible, the home owner should get statements from the contractors to verify the work and cost. They can also get written accounts from friends and relatives who saw the house before and after any improvements.
A damaged building is seen after Hurricane Irma hit St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
A damaged building is seen after Hurricane Irma in St John, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. After being struck by Irma last week, the U.S. Virgin Islands couldn’t look less like a tourist destination. Many local residents are giving up and getting out after losing everything to the category 5 storm, even as the local authorities in the U.S. territory say they are determined to rebuild the islands. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg
Ask the courts, or the local town or county
For inherited property, taxpayers can check court records for probate values. If a trust or estate existed, the taxpayer can contact the attorney who handled the trust.

When no other records are available, taxpayers can check the county assessor’s office for old records that might address the value of the property.
A car sits submerged in flood waters along a road in Buckingham, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017
A car sits submerged in flood waters along a road in Buckingham, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Seven million utility customers across the U.S. Southeast remain without power after Irma ripped through the region, first as a hurricane and then as a tropical storm. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Look for independent sources
There are several resources that can help someone determine the current fair-market value of most cars on the road. These resources are all available online and at most libraries:
* Kelley’s Blue Book
* National Automobile Dealers Association
* Edmunds
People charge their mobile devices outside a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.
People charge their mobile devices outside a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Trump ordered the Jones Act to be waived for shipments to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico immediately at the request of Governor Ricardo Rossello, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg
Check your phone
Taxpayers can look on their mobile phone for pictures that show damaged property before the disaster. Taxpayers can support the valuation of property with photographs, videos, canceled checks, receipts, or other evidence.
Hurricane Harvey flooded Rockport, Texas
Flooding and a damaged home are seen after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. As Harvey's winds die down, trouble for Texas has just begun as days of flooding rains across the heart of U.S. energy production threaten the country's fourth-largest city and leave farmers struggling to save horses, cows and crops. Photographer: Alex Scott/Bloomberg
It’s in the cards
If the taxpayer bought items using a credit card or debit card, they should contact their credit card company or bank for past statements.
A resident collects personal belongings from his flooded home in Bonita Springs, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017.
A resident collects personal belongings from his flooded home in Bonita Springs, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Hurricane Irma smashed into Southern Florida as a Category 4 storm, driving a wall of water and violent winds ashore and marking the first time since 1964 the U.S. was hit by back-to-back major hurricanes. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Not as sketchy as it sounds
If a taxpayer doesn’t have photographs or videos of their property, a simple method to help them remember what items they lost is to sketch pictures of each room that was impacted.
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More from the IRS
The IRS also noted that it has a ton of publications that can help in post-disaster recovery:
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