By Chelsea Brandt
The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch across parts of Florida Thursday as Hurricane Irma continued its devastating march across the Caribbean, a Category 5 storm blasting 175-mph winds.
Ahead of the potentially catastrophic storm, Florida officials have issued mandatory evacuation orders in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties and voluntary evacuation orders in Collier County, according to a statement from Florida Gov.
In the event you or a loved one needs to evacuate, here’s a list of things the IRS advises you to remember to do or to bring with you:
Bring Important Documents
Keep these in a plastic, waterproof case. You may need to prove who you are and that you own your home.
• Birth and marriage certificates
• Social Security cards
• Driver's licenses
• Deed or lease to your home
Take pictures or videotape the contents of any home, especially items of higher value. Documenting these items ahead of time will make it easier to claim any available insurance and tax benefits after the disaster strikes. Photographs can help an individual prove the fair market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims.
Create Electronic Copies of Key Documents
Taxpayers can help themselves by keeping a duplicate set of key documents, including bank statements, tax returns, identifications and insurance policies in a safe place. Store them in a waterproof container and away from the original set. Put them on a USB drive and take with you during the evacuation.
The IRS Can Help
In the case of a federally-declared disaster, an affected taxpayer can call 866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues.