Wells & Assocs CPA LLC Provides Tips for Safeguarding Financial Records

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With the 2013 hurricane season under way and memories of tornadoes and other natural disasters fresh in the country’s collective mind, now is the time for individuals and businesses to safeguard their tax records by taking a few simple steps.

Wells & Assocs CPA LLC provides the following suggestions to help safeguard important financial records before it’s too late.

The first step is to take inventory. Gather all documents and make an inventory list. It’s definitely convenient to have everything in a single location, but more likely than not, individuals will have to hunt around to find all of their documents. Don't forget to check computer files, storage boxes, file cabinets, old and new computers and laptops, thumb drives, and external hard drives and backup disks.

Depending on how complex finances are, it could be necessary to opt for a single list or choose to make two separate lists. The first list might include items such as insurance policies, mortgages and deeds, car titles, wills, pension and retirement-plan documents, powers of attorney, medical directives, and so on. The second list might contain a list of less essential documents such as brokerage accounts, loans that have been paid off, end-of-year bank statements, and copies of old tax returns and supporting documentation.

Create a backup set of records and store them electronically. Keeping a backup set of records -- including, for example, bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, etc. -- is easier now that many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically, and financial information is available on the Internet.

Even if the original records are provided only on paper, they can be scanned and converted to a digital format. Once the documents are in electronic form, taxpayers can download them to a backup storage device, such as an external hard drive, or burn them onto a CD or DVD (don't forget to label it).

Wells & Associates also suggests an online backup, which is the only way to ensure that data is fully protected. With online backup, files are stored in another region of the country, so that if a hurricane or other natural disaster occurs, documents remain safe.

Another step to prepare for a potential disaster is to photograph or videotape the contents of the home, especially items of higher value. A photographic or video record can help prove the fair market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims. Store the photos or video with a friend or family member who lives outside the area, or as part of the online document backup.

Emergency plans should be reviewed annually. Personal and business situations change over time, as do preparedness needs. When employers hire new employees or when a company or organization changes functions, plans should be updated accordingly and employees should be informed of the changes.

Check on Fiduciary Bonds. Employers who use payroll service providers should ask the provider if it has a fiduciary bond in place. The bond could protect the employer in the event of default by the payroll service provider.

If disaster were to strike, call the professionals at Wells & Associates right away. They can help get back copies of tax returns and all attachments, including W-2’s. They are available to help anytime.

About the company:

Wells & Associates CPA LLC started serving the Spartanburg area in 2002. Randy Wells and John McArthur have decades of small business, public and governmental experience in accounting, tax preparation and tax representation.

Their services encompass nearly every aspect of financial life. They are experienced in all matters of accounting services, bookkeeping services, CPA services and taxation, IRS problem resolution, estates and trusts, small business advice, financial planning and investment, real estate and business sales. For more information, please visit their website at http://www.wacpallc.com.

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