Washington State collects $601 million more in capital gains tax than expected
Summer's here, meaning it's time for June tax moves

Document your property for tax, insurance claims before storms hit

Click on image for animation.

Tropical Storm Arlene marked the official opening on Thursday, June 1, of the 2023 hurricane season. The good news is that she's now fizzled, as the above animated satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Hurricane Center, or NOAA NHC for all my fellow government acronym fans.

Better news is that the NHC says it doesn't expect any tropical cyclone activity for the next 48 hours. The lull could be longer; that's just the time range that Uncle Sam's forecasters are using.

A slow hurricane season start is not unusual. The Weather Channel notes that from 1851 through 2020, only about 13 percent of tropical storms in the Atlantic Basin occurred in June or July. For comparison, August, September and October have accounted for 22 percent, 35 percent, and 21 percent, respectively, of all tropical storms on record.

So this is a great time to not only complete your hurricane preparations, but also make a record of your personal property. As noted in an earlier storm season post, which is today's second tax tip of June, a pre-disaster inventory can pay off when filing insurance or tax claims.

Cell phone photos are a great way to document your property. But you also will need some context for those images. For that, I recommend a couple of Internal Revenue Service publications.

Inventory lists for individuals: First is IRS Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook (Personal-Use Property). It's designed to help to help you figure your loss on personal-use property in the event of a disaster, casualty, or theft. It also contains schedules to help you calculate any losses to your main home, its contents, and your motor vehicles. 

But what I like about Publication 584 is that those various schedules list the myriad items most of us have in our homes. The schedules go room-by-room. Then there are others that are types of property, such as clothing (for men, women, and children), jewelry, and the ever-popular miscellaneous.

They are a good memory nudge to account for everything you own and which could be damaged or destroyed if your location is ever the target of a natural disaster.


Business property lists, too: The IRS has a similar document for business owners. It is Publication 584-B, Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook.

Like its companion booklet for individual taxpayers, IRS Publication 584-B should help you figure your loss on business and income-producing property in the event of a disaster, casualty, or theft. It also contains schedules to help you figure the loss to your office furniture and fixtures, information systems, motor vehicles, office supplies, buildings, and equipment.

Check out these workbooks, whose publication numbers are this weekend's By the Numbers figures. Then use them to help you get on record the value of all your property. 

I hope you never have to use them. But it's better to have the information on hand — your inventory list, or a copy of it, obviously will go in your disaster prep box — than trying to reconstruct it when you're dealing with the aftermath of a disaster.

That list, or lists if you also have business property in a storm zone, will help you more quickly file your insurance claim or, if the damage is from a major disaster, claim a tax deduction.

You also might find these items of interest:



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