Monday, September 18, 2023

How Long Should Tax Records Be Kept

Don't Miss

It’s Not Just About Taxes

How long should you keep tax records? has some great traps to fall into

While youre focused on your tax papers, its good idea to organize all your financial documents, saysBarbara Weltman, who runs the website Big Ideas for Small Business and is the author of J.K. Lassers Small Business Taxes 2019 .

There are many occasions when you may need to retrieve your papers at short notice, she says.

For instance, you may need taxes and brokerage financial statements from previous years if youre meeting with a financial adviser. If your home is hit by a fire or flood, or a thief pays a visit, you may need quick access to your insurance papers. If you become ill, your loved ones may need to find papers that prove they can look after you, such as your healthcare proxy.

While the process may be daunting, getting your papers organized now means you can purge unneeded documents and simplify your life, McBride says.

How To Get Rid Of Your Tax Records

When its finally time to wave goodbye to that mountain of paperwork, its important to remember that getting your tax documents would be a criminals dream come true. These documents include your name, address, Social Security number and all the information needed to steal your identity, so getting rid of them requires extra attention.

When you dispose of tax records, make sure you keep your information safe, Flores says. Shred paper documents and wipe electronic records before disposing of old electronics to protect yourself from identity theft. Whether you retain paper or electronic documents, ensure they are safe and secure and keep an encrypted back-up.

Organizing Your Tax Records

If you have an efficient record-keeping system, it can make finding information a lot easier. The IRS has no particular standards or requirements for how you organize and file material, neither do state taxing authorities their only concern is that when they want to see a document, you’re able to deliver it promptly.

IRS Publication 552 offers detailedadvice on which records to keep, whether they’re hard copy or in electronic form.

If you use a TurboTax CD or download product, your tax return will be stored on your computer. It’s a good idea to also print a copy for your records and keep a backup file on an external drive or disc.

If you use TurboTax Online to prepare your taxes, we’ll keep a secure copy of your tax return for you to access online.

Remember, with TurboTax, we’ll ask you simple questions about your life and help you fill out all the right tax forms. Whether you have a simple or complex tax situation, we’ve got you covered. Feel confident doing your own taxes.

You May Like: How To Avoid Capital Gains Tax On Property

Records Related To Property

When your tax return includes information related to property, keep those records until the statute of limitations typically three years runs out for the year in which you sell or otherwise dispose of the property.

For example, if you bought a car in 2010, use it as part of your business and then sell it in 2020, you should keep all of those car-related tax records until the statute of limitations expires for your 2020 tax return.

In addition, keep your old property records until the statute runs out on the tax year you dispose of the new property if you exchange the property for another property to which you transfer your cost basis.

For example, say you use a 1031 exchange to sell a rental property and invest the proceeds tax-free into a new rental property. Your basis in the new property is dependent on your basis in the old rental property. As a result, keep the old rental property records until the statute runs on the tax year that you sell the replacement property.

Deductions: All the Tax Write-Offs You Dont Know About

What Records Need To Be Kept For 7 Years

How Long Should You Keep Tax Records?

Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction. Keep records for 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. Keep records indefinitely if you do not file a return.

You May Like: How Do I Find My Old Tax Returns On Turbotax

What Should You Not Do When Someone Dies

8 Mistakes to Avoid After the Death of a Loved One

  • Feeling pressured to make quick decisions.
  • Not budgeting.
  • Sorting through the deceaseds possessions without a system.
  • Forgetting to take care of household arrangements and tasks.
  • Not canceling credit cards and utilities, or stopping Social Security benefit payments.
  • What To Do With Your Income Tax Records

    Are you ready for a major housecleaning but not sure how long you need to keep old income tax records? Before throwing away important income tax records, consider these general guidelines.

    Federal income tax regulations require you to keep your records as long as they can be material to the administration of the tax law.

    The retention periods apply to records needed to substantiate your federal income tax return and are based on the federal statute of limitations, which is normally three years. This means the IRS could audit your return up to three years from the due date of the tax return or the date of filing, whichever is later. However, if you substantially underreport income, fail to file a return, or file a fraudulent return, the statute of limitations could be much longer.

    In addition, some states have a statute of limitations that exceeds the federal statute, or have laws or regulations that require taxpayers to maintain records beyond the states statute of limitations, often to verify carryovers, etc.

    Tailor your retention years to the longer of the federal or state requirements. In deciding your own record retention schedule, consider indefinitely keeping those records that cannot be recreated by any other office, institution, or governmental unit. Also, keep your own financial concerns in mind when determining how long to keep your records. Most importantly, consult with your attorney for approval of any record retention policy.

    Also Check: Are Donations To Churches Tax Deductible

    Youre Our First Priorityevery Time

    We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesnt feature every company or financial product available on the market, were proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward and free.

    So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about , but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services.Here is a list of our partners.

    How Long Do You Need To Keep Tax Records After Someone Dies

    How Long Should I Keep Tax Records

    As they saying goes, the only things certain in life are death and taxes. Even if the event of death, taxes are still due for the year and a final tax return must be filed. If you are in charge of a decedent’s estate, you want to ensure you have her financial documents on hand to properly prepare and file taxes. The length of time you should be keeping tax records after death and supporting documents varies depending on the circumstances. However, there are guidelines the Internal Revenue Service sets for all taxpayers.


    • The length of time you should hold on to a deceased relatives tax records varies, but generally falls between three and six years.

    You May Like: How Much Is Maryland Sales Tax

    Records Retention Guideline # : Some Items Should Never Be Thrown Out

    This is because these items would be hard to replace and you may be askedto provide them later in life. I suggest storing these permanent recordsin an expanding file or wallet preferably in a fire safe or safe depositbox:

    • Income tax returns and payment checks
    • Important correspondence
    • Medical bills

    Special Rules For Computer Records

    The definition of books and records goes beyond hard copies when you maintain all or part of your accounting records on a computer. In general, record retention periods are the same for machine-sensible records as they are for their hard copy counterparts.

    A machine-sensible record is data in an electronic format intended for computer use. Machine-sensible records do not include paper records or paper records that have been converted to an electronic storage medium, such as microfilm, microfiche, optical disk, or laser disk. Retrievability is important where machine-sensible records are concerned. Not only must certain records be maintained, but the IRS must have access to those records. This becomes especially burdensome when computer systems are upgraded or converted.

    If you or your business has more than $10 million in assets5 and you maintain all or a portion of your accounting records on a computer, the IRS requires your machine-sensible records be in a retrievable format that provides the information necessary to determine the correct income tax liability. This requirement applies even if your accounting system is maintained by a third-party service provider. To comply with this requirement, you must retain these specific documentation formats for all data files:

    5. Members of a controlled group of corporations are combined for this purpose.

    Read Also: What Happens If I Forgot To File Taxes

    How Long Should Tax Returns Be Kept

    Usually the main concern when dealing with a deceased individuals legal documents is the tax returns.

    The statute of limitation for a tax audit is four years. This means that the CRA can conduct a random audit on the deceaseds tax returns for the next four years.

    Despite this statute of limitations, it is recommended that you hang on to all tax records for at least six years in case any questions arise about the deceased individuals returns.

    This includes any filed files along with important tax forms and receipts.

    Faq: How Long Should We Keep Certain Church Records

    How long should I keep old tax records?

    Doug Clay answers frequently asked questions concerning church business practices

    Doug Clayon February 28, 2017

    How long should we keep certain church records?We recommend a church establish a records retention policy. The following list offers some retention guidelines. Boxes containing records should indicate a description of the documents enclosed, the time period that they relate to , and how long the documents should be kept. If they are to be kept permanently, they should be marked Do Not Destroy or something similar.

    Some documents, because of their vital nature to the church, should be stored in a protective environment, such as a safe, a safe deposit box, or some other secure and protected location.

    These are marked in the following list with an asterisk.

    Records to be kept permanently:

    • Corporate records, including articles of incorporation and bylaws.*
    • Minutes to board meetings, including all related reports.
    • Audit reports.
    • Tax returns submitted to the IRS or state.
    • Annual corporate filings or returns.
    • Tax-exemption documents and correspondence for income, sales, property or other taxes.*
    • Property records.*
    • Accounts payable records, schedules and related paid invoices.
    • Tax bills, receipts and statements.

    Records to be kept two years:

    • Time cards, time sheets.
    • Individual offering envelopes.

    This article was originally published on and has been used with permission. For more resources from the General Treasurers office, click here.

    Read Also: What Tax Form Should I Use

    Keep Tax Records And Supporting Documents For Six Years

    Even if you do not have to attach certain supporting documents to your return, or if you are filing your return electronically, keep your supporting documents for six years in case the Canada Revenue Agency selects your return for a review. This six-year period starts at the end of the tax year to which the records relate.

    Tax records include:

    • All supporting documents you used to prepare them, such as:
    • T-slips
    • Receipts or documents for medical, child care, charitable donations, moving expenses, any other expenses for which you received a credit or deduction

    Keeping your tax records is important to support the information you have provided to the CRA.

    Residents of Quebec should see this link: Keeping Records and Supporting Documents.

    How Long Should You Keep Human Resources Files

    Depending on your business and the state where you are located, you might have many types of HR records that fall under the jurisdiction of different government agencies.

    Generally, you will need to keep the most common types of forms and documents, like employment and job application records, family leave documents, performance reviews, and benefit election documents, for three to five years, depending on the record and the state where your business is located.

    Workers’ compensation records. Requirements and laws for retaining records on employees who are injured in the workplace vary by state, and you should check with the responsible state agency for guidelines on keeping these records. On the federal level, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration requires businesses to retain records on workplace injuries for five years.

    Discrimination claims. Requirements for claims about discrimination also vary by state and the type of discrimination Federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Labor, also have recordkeeping requirements for discrimination claims.

    Employee pension and retirement plans. Pension and retirement plans might fall under both IRS and Employee Retirement Income Security Act rules. You might want to permanently keep records for employees who receive pension or retirement plan benefits from your company plan to protect yourself if the employee files a claim many years after retirement.

    You May Like: How Much Taxes Do They Take Off Your Paycheck

    How Long Do Federal And State Tax Returns Need To Be Kept


    If the IRS or state government questions your tax deductions or business losses, you may need a copy of your return.

    Dropping a tax check in the mail doesn’t mean you can then throw out the paperwork.

    If the IRS or state government questions your deductions or business losses, you may need a copy of your returnnot to mention W-2s and other documentationto prove your return was accurate.

    However, there are limits to how far back the government can look.

    A Quick Note Before We Start

    How long to keep tax records

    The yearly file purge is a sensitive issue for many,because there could be harsh consequences if you toss something that you shouldhave kept. These are general-purpose records retention guidelines. If youhave unusual or extenuating circumstances in your life please check with youraccountant or attorney before pitching any important legal, business, or financialpaperwork.

    Recommended Reading: Are Traditional Ira Contributions Tax Deductible

    What Are Corporate Records

    Corporate records are vital documents about your business. For example, your articles of incorporation are included in your records in fact, this document is one of the first records youll create. Other documents in the record include your , business ledgers, tax returns, meeting minutes, and more.

    All corporations are required by law to maintain a detailed corporate record, and neglecting your record could have rather serious legal repercussions.

    Ownership Records And Other Key Business Documents

    There are certain documents that need to be kept indefinitely. These include your company formation documents, such as articles of incorporation and articles of organization .

    If youre a corporation, youll also need to keep any director or shareholder meeting minutes and a stock ledger. Other key ownership and business documents should be kept permanently including deeds, titles, property records and any contracts.

    Read Also: What Is New York State Sales Tax Rate

    Store Permanently: Tax Returns Major Financial Records

    Your tax returns are important documents to keep as part of your financial history. Youll want to keep a permanent electronic or hard copy of each years tax return and any payments you make to the government. Additionally, its a good idea to hold on to records of major financial events, such as legal filings or inheritances. You can easily access your paperless statements and documents online and keep them safely stored there. Bank of America clients can easily manage paperless statements and documents using Mobile and Online banking.

    Struck Off Or Wound Up Companies

    How Long Should I Keep Tax Records?

    If your company has been struck off and dissolved, a person who was an officer of the company immediately before its dissolution must ensure that all books and papers of the company are retained for at least 5 years after the date on which the companywas dissolved.

    If your company is being wound up, the liquidator of the company must ensure that all the books and papers of the company are retained for at least 5 years from the date of dissolution of the company.

    Recommended Reading: Can You File Taxes For Unemployment

    How Long Do I Need To Keep My Tax Records In Canada

    You must keep your Canadian tax records for six years. You must keep your records from the end of the last tax year that you filed a Canadian tax return for.

    For example, if you file a tax return for the 2021 tax year, your tax records must be kept until the end of the 2027 tax year.

    The Canadian tax year begins on 1 January and ends on 31 December each year.

    You must keep all of your supporting documents regardless of whether you used them for your Canadian tax return.

    How To Request The Permission To Destroy Your Records Before The End Of Their Retention Period

    If you want to destroy your books of account and records earlier than the retention period specified in How long to keep your records, you first must get written permission from the CRA.

    To get this permission, you or your authorized representatives can do either of the following:

    If you destroy paper or electronic records without the CRA’s permission, you may be prosecuted.

    The CRA’s permission only applies to records you have to keep under legislation it administers. The CRA is not authorized to approve the destruction of records you have to keep under other federal, provincial, territorial, or municipal laws.

    Read Also: Is Nursing Home Care Tax Deductible

    More articles

    Popular Articles