There are many reasons to be sure that your tax and other financial records are safe and available when you need them. As you prepare and file your tax return, it’s important to have easy access to receipts, the tax forms you receive from employers and other tax-related documents.

There are many other instances, such as applying for a mortgage or other type of loan, when it will also be important to access your tax returns and other financial information. At the same time, you want to be sure that your personal documents remain confidential. With that in mind, the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants offers this tips on protecting your critical information:

Add electronic option — Your original paper copies of important documents should be kept in secure, fireproof containers that will provide protection in the case of an emergency. In addition, it’s a great idea to have electronic copies of recent tax returns as well as W2s, 1099s, receipts for tax deductions and any other evidence you need to back up entries on your tax return. You can do this by scanning copies of the documents you receive to both your hard drive and to a removable USB drive that you keep in another secure location. That second drive is your security in case a disaster—such as a fire, flood or hurricane—strikes the location where your original hard copies and your computer are kept. You should take the same precautions with your will, insurance policies and other important documentation.