Once you’ve filed your taxes, you should maintain all of your records and supporting documents in a safe place in case you need to refer to them or if you get audited. But how long should you keep your records for? The IRS has a few tips that can help you figure out how long you should stash your documents.
The IRS states that the timeframe of document retention depends on the document, the expense, and what the document supports. In addition to supporting documents, the IRS suggests keeping a record of previously filed tax returns, which can assist in future filings.
Typically, the IRS suggests any records which support income or deductions that were claimed on a tax return should be held until the period of limitation expires. The period of limitation is a specific window of time where it is permissible to amend the return to claim additional credits or refunds.
Certain items and situations have different scenarios for how long you should keep the documents. The IRS recommends the following guidelines:
You have unreported income that totals more than 25% of the gross income shown on the return. You should keep all related items for 6 years.
You have filed a return that is fraudulent. Records should be maintained for life.
Records should be kept indefinitely if you did not file a return.
If you’ve amended your original return to claim a credit, you should keep records for at least 3 years from the date of the original return, or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, depending on which is longer.
You claim a loss of worthless securities or bad debt. All records should be kept for 7 years.
Any records related to tax paid through an employer should be maintained for at least 4 years from the date the tax is due, or the date you paid, whichever is later.