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How long should I keep old tax records?

Published On: Apr 14 2014 09:28:40 AM CDT
Tax forms, taxes, money

iStock / peanut8481

After filing your taxes you might be wondering how long you should keep your tax records and documents. Use these tips from the IRS to help you determine how long to keep your records.

According to the IRS, the length of time you should keep your tax documents depends on the type of document, the amount of expense and the event the document recorded. The IRS also recommends keeping copies of your filed tax returns. These will help you when filing future tax returns.

In general, the IRS recommends keeping your records that support an item of income or deductions on a tax return until the period of limitation – or the time period in which you can amend your tax return to claim a credit or refund -- for that return expires.

Here is a list from the IRS on which items and situations would require you to keep documents and how long you should keep them:

  1. You owe additional tax and situations (2), (3), and (4), below, do not apply to you; keep records for 3 years.
  2. You do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return; keep records for 6 years.
  3. You file a fraudulent return; keep records indefinitely.
  4. You do not file a return; keep records indefinitely.
  5. You file a claim for credit or refund* after you file your return; keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
  6. You file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction; keep records for 7 years.
  7. Keep all employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
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