- Days left

How Long Should I Keep Copies of My Tax Records?

Every year about this time, taxpayers all over the country stare at piles of receipts, old tax returns and checkbooks and wonder: How long do I have to keep this stuff?



The length of time you should keep your tax records depends on a number of factors, including the action, expense or event the document records. Here are a few brief guidelines:
  • Keep your tax returns and supporting documentation until the statute of limitations runs for filing returns or filing for a refund. In most cases, the statue of limitations (SOL) for assessment of taxes expires three years from the due date of the return, or the date that you file, whichever is later. An extension of the due date for filing the return does not change the date the statute of limitations starts to run. If you fail to file, the statute never starts to run, so taxes can be assessed at any time. Special rules also apply if you file a false or fraudulent return or are willfully attempting to evade tax or if you substantially understate your gross income.
  • If you claim depreciation, amortization or depletion deductions, keep those tax schedules and supporting documents for as long as you own the related property. Supporting documents include deeds, titles and cost-basis records, such as sales receipts and proof of payment.
  • If you claim special deductions and credits, you may need to keep your records a little longer than normal. For example, if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction, you should keep those records for seven years.
  • If you have employees, including household employees, keep your employment tax records for at least four years after the date that payroll taxes become due or are paid, whichever is later. This should include forms W-2 and W-4, as well as related pay information including benefit forms.
Once you decide what to hold on to, be sure to keep your documents organized and accessible. The IRS expects you to be able to produce legible receipts and other records upon request.

Of course, just because the IRS doesn't need those records doesn't mean you don't need them at all. Check with your mortgage providers, lenders and brokers before you throw those out.

All that said, don't go crazy with the record keeping. You don't have to keep records forever. Pay attention to dates and the kinds of records you have in your home. Don't be afraid to toss out what you don't need.


Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Introduction to Preferred Shares

Learn the difference between preferred and common shares.

View Course »

Getting out of debt

Everyone hates debt. Get out of it.

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

What is IRS Form 8824: Like-Kind Exchange

Ordinarily, when you sell something for more than what you paid to get it, you have a capital gain; when you sell it for less than what you paid, you have a capital loss. Both can affect your taxes. But if you immediately buy a similar property to replace the one you sold, the tax code calls that a "like-kind exchange," and it lets you delay some or all of the tax effects. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses Form 8824 for like-kind exchanges.

What are ABLE Accounts? Tax Benefits Explained

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts allow the families of disabled young people to set aside money for their care in a way that earns special tax benefits. ABLE accounts work much like the so-called 529 accounts that families can use to save money for education; in fact, an ABLE account is really a special kind of 529.

What is IRS Form 8829: Expenses for Business Use of Your Home

One of the many benefits of working at home is that you can deduct legitimate expenses from your taxes. The downside is that since home office tax deductions are so easily abused, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tends to scrutinize them more closely than other parts of your tax return. However, if you are able to substantiate your home office deductions, you shouldn't be afraid to claim them. IRS Form 8829 helps you determine what you can and cannot claim.

What is IRS Form 8859: Carryforward of D.C. First-Time Homebuyer Credit

Form 8859 is a tax form that will never be used by the majority of taxpayers. However, if you live in the District of Columbia (D.C.), it could be the key to saving thousands of dollars on your taxes. While many first-time home purchasers in D.C. are entitled to a federal tax credit, Form 8859 calculates the amount of carry-forward credit you can use in future years, not the amount of your initial tax credit.

What is IRS Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has the power to seize income tax refunds when a taxpayer owes certain debts, such as unpaid taxes or overdue child support. Sometimes, a married couple's joint tax refund will be seized because of a debt for which only one spouse is responsible. When that happens, the other spouse is said to be "injured" and can file Form 8379 to get at least some of the refund.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum