How Long should You Keep Tax Records

1. Tax Returns. ALWAYS keep tax returns.They take very little space and if there is ever an argument the return was not filed, at least you have a copy.


2. Backup records. Any written evidence that supports figures on your tax return, such as receipts, expense logs, bank notices and sales records, should generally be kept for at least the three-year period.  If possible keep the records for 7 years.

Note: There are some cases when taxpayers get more than the usual three years to file an amended return. You have up to seven years to take deductions for bad debts or worthless securities, so don't toss out recoSecurities. To accurately report taxable events involving stocks and bonds, you must maintain detailed records of purchases and sales. These records should include dates, quantities, prices, dividend reinvestment, and investment expenses, such as broker fees. Keep these records for as long as you own the investments, plus the statute of limitations on the relevant tax returns.

3. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). The IRS requires you to keep copies of Forms 8606, 5498 and 1099-R until all the money is withdrawn from your IRA accounts. With the introduction of Roth IRAs, it's more important than ever to hold onto all IRA records pertaining to contributions and withdrawals in case you're ever questioned.

If an account is closed, treat IRA records with the same rules as securities. Don't dispose of any ownership documentation until the statute of limitations expires.

4. Issues affecting more than one year. Records that support figures affecting multiple years, such as carryovers of charitable deductions, net operating loss carrybacks or carryforwards or casualty losses, need to be saved until the deductions no longer have effect, plus seven years, according to IRS instructions.rds that could result in refund claims for those items.

5. Real estate records. Keep these for as long as you own the property, plus three years after you dispose of it and report the transaction on your tax return. Throughout ownership, keep records of the purchase, as well as receipts for home improvements, relevant insurance claims, and documents relating to refinancing. These help prove your adjusted basis in the home, which is needed to figure the taxable gain at the time of sale, or to support calculations for rental property or home office deductions.

For Further Information

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