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How Long Should Records Be Kept?

The length of time you should keep a document depends on the action, expense, or event that the document records. Generally, you must keep records that support an item of income or deductions on a tax return until the period of limitations for that return runs out.

The period of limitations is the period of time in which you can amend your tax return to claim a credit or refund, or that the IRS can assess additional taxes. Unless stated otherwise, the number of years refers to the period after the return was filed. Returns filed before the due date are treated as filed on the due date. The information below contains the periods of limitations that apply to income tax returns. Keep your records for:

  1. Three (3) years from the date you filed your original return if you file a claim for a credit or refund, or two (2) years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.

  2. Three (3) years if you owe additional taxes, and the following situations under #2, #3 and #4 do not apply to you.

  3. Keep all employment tax records for at least four (4) years after the date taxes were due or is paid, whichever is later.

  4. Six (6) years if you do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return.

  5. Seven (7) years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deductions.

  6. Indefinitely, if you either file a fraudulent return; or don’t file a return at all.

Note: Keep copies of your filed tax returns. They help with the preparation of future tax returns and making computations if you ever need to file an amended return.

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