After the storm: Reconstructing individual records

In the wake of severe storms or other natural disasters, the cleanup can be a monumental task. One of the most important tasks to be undertaken is reconstructing financial records that were lost for insurance reimbursement or to get federal disaster assistance. 

The following are steps you can take after a disaster to reconstruct these records: 

Copies of returns or return transcripts

Taxpayers who have lost copies of their tax returns in a disaster can obtain return transcripts from the IRS. Return transcripts show most line items from an original Form 1040 tax return, along with any forms and schedules. The IRS provides return transcripts for the current and three prior tax years. Please note that a return transcript does not show changes made after the original return was filed.

A tax return transcript usually meets the needs of lending institutions offering mortgages. Taxpayers who need return transcripts can get them by:

When filing Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, please note that the primary spouse on a joint return must make the request when getting copies of returns by mail or by phone.

When requesting returns or return transcripts by mail, be sure to write the appropriate disaster designation, for example, “HURRICANE IAN,” in red letters across the top of the form to expedite processing and waive the normal user fee. 

Personal residence and other real property records

Homeowners and other real property owners may need to recreate records to document the extent of the damage to their property.

The following are some steps property owners should take to show property damage after a disaster:

  • Take photographs or videos as soon after the disaster as possible. This helps establish the extent of the damage.
  • Contact the title company, escrow company or bank that handled the purchase of the property to get copies of appropriate documents. Real estate brokers may also be able to help depending on how long ago the property was purchased.
  • Use the current property tax statement to determine the value of the land and any improvement on the property. If the taxpayer has lost their property tax statement a copy can usually be obtained from the county assessor’s office or the county’s tax assessor website.
  • Establish a basis or fair market value of the home by reviewing comparable sales within the same neighborhood. This information can be found by contacting an appraisal company or visiting a website that provides home valuations.
  • Check with the mortgage company for copies of appraisals or other information they may have about cost or fair market value in the area.
  • Review insurance policies, as they usually list the value of a building, establishing a base figure for replacement value insurance. For details on how to reach the insurance company, a taxpayer should check with their state insurance department
  • If improvements were made to the home, contact the contractors who did the work to see if they have records available. If possible, get statements from the contractors verifying the work and what it cost.
  • If there is a home improvement loan, get paperwork from the institution that issued the loan. The amount of the loan may help establish the cost of the improvements.
  • For inherited property, check court records for probate values. If a trust or estate existed, contact the attorney who handled the estate or trust.
  • If no other records are available, check the county assessor’s office for records that might address the value of the property. 

We recommend that property owners, especially those in disaster-prone areas, take pictures or videos of their property at least once per year so they have relatively recent proof of the state of their property before any disaster damage. We recommend taking pictures of all the rooms in your home as a visual inventory. Don’t forget to take pictures of the insides of cabinets, pantries, closets, crawl spaces, attics and garages. Be sure to check whether your insurance provider allows these photos and videos to be uploaded to a remote storage server.

Vehicles

There are several resources that can help determine the current fair market value of most cars on the road. These resources are all available online and at most libraries:

Additionally, you can call the dealer where you purchased the lost or damaged vehicle and ask for a copy of the purchase contract. If the contract is not available, the dealer may be able to provide both a before- and after-disaster fair market value for the vehicle. Be sure to check with the lien holder if you are still making payments on the car.

Other personal property

It can be difficult to reconstruct records showing the fair market value of some types of personal property. Generally, when computing a disaster loss the taxpayer must determine:  

  • The decrease in fair market value of the property that resulted from the casualty or disaster.
  • Their adjusted basis of the property. Generally, this is what was paid for the property, increased or decreased, by certain events. 

Here are some things to consider when cataloging lost or damaged personal items and their pre- and post-disaster values:

  • Look on mobile phones for pictures that were taken in the home that might show the damaged property in the background before the disaster.
  • Check websites that can help establish the cost and fair market value of lost or damaged items.
  • Support the valuation with photographs, videos, canceled checks, receipts or other evidence.
  • If items were purchased using a credit card or debit card, contact the credit card company or bank for past statements. Credit card companies and banks often provide users access to these statements online.

If there are no photos or videos of the property, a simple method to help remember what items were lost is to sketch pictures of each room that was impacted:

  • Draw a floor plan showing where each piece of furniture was placed, including dressers and shelves.
  • Sketch pictures of the room looking toward any shelves or tables showing their contents.
  • These do not have to be professionally drawn, just functional.
  • Take time to draw shelves with memorabilia on them.
  • Be sure to include garages, attics, closets, basements and items on walls.

Check to see if you have an app on your phone that helps create and maintain a home personal property inventory. Your property insurer may be able to recommend an app for home inventory. Your property insurer may have recommendations for a home inventory app as well.

Please let us know how we can help.

Pat Herrera, EA, is a Supervisor on our Client Service Team. She can be reached at phererra@antarescpas.com.

Recent Articles:

Follow Antares CPAs:

Thank you for registering!

You will receive an email confirmation soon, and we look forward to seeing you at the Antares Wealth Symposium.

Make your room reservation now.

Use the link below to get a special room rate at the gorgeous Hotel Contessa where our symposium is being held.

Save my place!

Complete this short form to reserve your place at the free Antares Wealth Symposium. Watch for your confirmation email and we look forward to seeing you in San Antonio.

Contact Info
Guest Info

To help with meal planning, please indicate how many from your group will be attending each event.

Monday Dinner

Tuesday Breakfast

Tuesday Lunch

Dietary Restrictions
Other Accommodations
Contact Info
Guest Info

To help with meal planning, please indicate how many from your group will be attending each event.

Monday Dinner

Tuesday Breakfast

Tuesday Lunch

Dietary Restrictions
Other Accommodations

Succession & Transition Strategies

Creating a successful succession plan is about protecting the future of a business and/or brand and ensuring there is a strategy in place to ensure your business continues to thrive.

After years of investing time, money and other resources, it’s imperative to prepare for this next stage in business and life. Poor planning can increase risks for stakeholders and tarnish legacies. Let’s make sure the next generation is well-equipped and ready to take your life’s work and family legacy to an even greater level of success.

Each situation is unique because the needs of each one involved are unique. We carefully review each opportunity to determine how best to structure a transition while meeting your goals, complying with any brand licensing polices and minimizing the tax implications of the transfer.

  • Next generation succession planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Wealth management

Let's get started.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email hello@antaresgroupcpas.com

Technology Services

Antares Group’s technology team provides convenient hardware and software support, along with comprehensive cloud accounting services with 24/7 access to up-to-date financial information exactly the way you want it, on any connected device, with a customizable dashboard interface. We use best-in class cloud accounting platforms and software including Sage Intacct, Bill.com and robot process automation (RPA) with integration capabilities with some of the leading point-of-sale, payroll, and business operations management software programs.

Cloud accounting is just the beginning; Antares Group’s experienced technology team also performs system evaluations and makes recommendations for products and services that will help your business run more efficiently, as well as protecting your information and infrastructure with robust security options. Using the right technology for automation will simplify your life and keep your valuable data safe..

  • Technology and security optimization
  • Complete cloud accounting services
  • Computer troubleshooting assistance with remote and onsite repair

Let's get started.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email hello@antaresgroupcpas.com

Business Planning & Valuation

An accurate understanding of your company’s current value and financial viability is vital for achieving business success and the launch pad to boundless possibilities in the years to come. Realistic valuations are essential for long-term strategic plans, business successions and expansions, gift and estate planning, and a lucrative retirement package. Planning for where you want to go in the future is what our business and tax advisors do best. Whatever your goals, we are here to provide you with the right plan and insightful guidance to achieve it.

  • Trend reporting and analysis and business valuation
  • General business and start-up consulting
  • Major reinvestment planning
  • Cash flow projections

Let's get started.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email hello@antaresgroupcpas.com

Back Office Solutions

In such a fast-moving business environment, business owners need every advantage to succeed. Improving efficiency should be an ongoing part of your strategy for financial success, empowering you to make continuous improvements.

Whether your business is a single location seeking to grow effectively and sustainably, an established franchise brand adding new locations, or something in between, Antares Group provides a suite of back office services and the financial expertise to help business owners and managers achieve their operational and financial goals. In the process of supporting your essential back office operations with practical solutions, we analyze the function and effectiveness, looking for inefficiencies and potential liabilities, offering valuable insights for owners and managers.

  • Daily deposit verification and online banking monitoring
  • Process invoices and code general ledger accounts
  • Process vendor payments and file 1099s
  • Prepare and file sales and use tax returns
  • Reconcile bank, credit card and cashless sales accounts

Let's get started.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email hello@antaresgroupcpas.com

Tax Advisory

Minimizing your tax burden is a year-round strategy; planning for and preparing complex business and individual tax returns is where Antares Group excels. Beyond simply helping you fulfill basic tax obligations, you can rely on our tax advisory team to keep you informed of ever-changing regulations and keep you in compliance. We conduct regular reviews to make sure all methods of reducing your tax liabilities are being used. We routinely assess your personal income tax situation and cash flow to guard against the unexpected. This ongoing strategic analysis empowers you to maximize tax savings and capitalize on new opportunities.

In addition, we provide advisory services for new business startups, acquisitions, and dispositions. Through careful analysis, we help clients determine the best structure and make the process as seamless as possible.

  • Business and individual year-end tax returns
  • Personal property, gift, and trust income tax returns
  • Fixed asset setup and maintenance
  • Annual tax planning and preparation

Let's get started.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email hello@antaresgroupcpas.com

Cloud Accounting

Whether you run a small closely held business or a large franchise operation, maintaining a firm grasp of accounting and bookkeeping can be challenging. Between managing staff and overseeing daily operations, there is not enough time to dig into the books and make sense of the financials. You need to know the facts and the implications. – having precise, up-to-date information at hand means you always know your financial position so you can make informed decisions that keep your business moving forward.

The financial experts at Antares can create a custom menu of accounting and tax services perfectly catered to your business needs, including accurate and timely financial statements and reports, so you are always prepared to respond quickly to changing and challenging circumstances. Along the way, we provide clear feedback and financial guidance to help you predict trends and recognize issues, then make the necessary adjustments to sustain cash flow throughout the year.

  • Timely preparation of financial statements based on your particular needs
  • Complete preparation of sales, payroll, inventory, accrual, and prepaid journal entries
  • Meticulous monthly bank and credit card reconciliations

Let's get started.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email hello@antaresgroupcpas.com