’Tis the Season…to Safeguard Records
Summer has begun, and for many parts of the United States, so has hurricane season. Residents and proprietors in areas at risk of a landfall — as well as inland areas that also can be affected — often hear exhortations to be prepared, just in case. The IRS has issued a reminder
about the importance of also taking steps to protect tax records — and the same principle applies to employers, benefits administrators, plan administrators, third party administrators and plan sponsors regarding protecting records relevant to plans and participants.
In news release IR-2015-83, the IRS suggests the following steps.
Create an electronic additional set of records.
Keep a duplicate set of records including bank statements, tax returns, identifications and insurance policies in a safe place such as a waterproof container, and away from the original set. Even if the original records are only provided on paper, these can be scanned into an electronic format, saved to the cloud, downloaded to a storage device such as an external hard drive or USB flash drive, or burn them to a CD or DVD.
Photograph or videotape valuables, especially items of higher value. Photos also could be shared with a party from outside the area.
Update emergency plans.
Emergency plans should be reviewed annually. 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. Make plans ahead of time and practice them.
Check on fiduciary bonds.
Employers that 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.
IRS assistance available.
Employers, plan administrators and pension professionals can obtain help from the IRS in the following ways:
- Call 1-866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues.