- Days left

Tax Tips: How long should I keep my tax records?

The general rule of thumb for tax records is to keep everything for at least three years, but there are some things you should keep longer. Throughout the year, I recommend that you keep your pay stubs, mortgage statements, bank statements, home purchase and renovation receipts, investment account statements and receipts for anything that might be used on your tax return.

Once you receive your W-2, you can throw out the pay stubs. Once you receive your 1098 for mortgage interest paid, you can discard your monthly mortgage statements. Most of the other documents mentioned above should be kept with your tax return for the three year period. Items related to your home purchase, rental property purchase, or major renovation should be kept until you sell the property.

Anything that has been deducted on the tax return should have documentation in your files, in case the IRS ever questions it. You may have heard that you should keep your records for seven years, rather than the three years I've mentioned above. Three years is the time frame during which the IRS can audit your tax return, while seven years is generally the time period during which the IRS can bring a criminal tax fraud case against you. Since most of us aren't engaged in serious tax fraud, we probably don't need to maintain our records for seven years. Some people still like to be cautious though, and keep the records for the longer period.

You can find more information about good recordkeeping practices at the IRS website.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

Learn about investing from the comfort of your own home.

Portfolio Basics

Take the first steps to building your portfolio.

View Course »

Investment Strategies

Learn the strategies you need to build a winning portfolio

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

5 Tax Tips for Single Parents

Filing taxes as a single parent requires coordination between you and your ex-spouse or partner. Usually the custodial parent claims the child as a dependent, but there are exceptions. A single parent is allowed to claim applicable deductions and exemptions for each qualifying child. Even though you claim your child as a dependent, she may still have to file her own tax return if she has income, such as from an after-school job.

Affordable Care Act Decoded

The health care reform law known as the Affordable Care Act may directly affect your tax liability. Many taxpayers are familiar with the requirement that most Americans either carry health insurance or pay a tax penalty. But that's just one provision, and knowing what else is in the law can help you avoid surprises come tax time.

Cost of Taking the Wrong Tax Deductions

Taking the wrong tax deductions can cost you time and money. If you're depending on a tax refund, a tax return that is improperly filed can keep you waiting for a long time. You may also get back less than you expected. If the Internal Revenue Service suspects errors or requires proof of deductions, you may be asked to provide back-up documents to prove your numbers and amend the return. "If the IRS requires further information," advises Bill Symons, president of Computer Accounting Services in Oswego, N.Y., "You'll receive an official request by mail. Normally the situation is easily rectified, but it can delay refunds by up to 10 to 11 months."

5 Steps to Navigate the Healthcare Marketplaces

To navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace, you have to know what you want from a health plan. Have your previous plan handy to make comparisons, as well as household and income information. If this is your first health plan, be aware of your needs and know your tax situation. Eligibility depends on the size of your family and combined income from all sources.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum