Individuals are never sure how long to keep various tax records that include tax returns, statements and receipts. Sometimes it is difficult to know whether basic guidelines for retention are appropriate or fit all cases. The following represent general guidelines.
Records and Documentation That Should be Retained for 3 Years: In most cases, keep records that support items on your tax return for at least three years after that tax return has been filed. Examples include:
Records to Be Kept Seven Years
Records and Documentation That Should Be Retained Indefinitely
Although the IRS generally does not require you to keep your records in any special manner, having a designated place for tax documents and receipts is a good idea. It will make preparing your return easier, and it may also remind you of relevant transactions.
Good record-keeping will also help you prepare a response if you receive an IRS notice or need to substantiate items on your return if you are selected for an audit.
When in doubt, the prudent course of action is to preserve the records or documentation indefinitely. Additionally, documents should be scanned into a computer for safekeeping and backup. In some cases a discussion with your tax attorney or tax accountant may be warranted and necessary before disposing or destroying documents.
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