Store or Shred? “How Long Should I Keep Tax Records?”

To what extent would it be a good idea for me to keep government tax forms?

By and large, you should anticipate keeping government tax returns alongside any supporting records for a time of no less than seven years following the date you documented or the due date of your expense form, whichever is later. So for instance, in the event that you recorded your 2015 government form on February 1, 2016, you ought to have kept the arrival and supporting archives until at any rate April 15, 2017.

What tax records would it be a good idea for me to keep?

You should keep every tax form and supporting documents. This takes into account of W-2s, 1099s, expenditure tracking, mileage logs if you itemize and other forms.

So why is keeping tax forms for seven years vital?

Keeping tax forms for the seven-year time period is because of the IRS statute of restrictions. Under the statute, if you do not file a claim for a refund that you are qualified for, you, for the most part, have the later of three years from the date you documented the first return or two years from the date you paid the tax, to file the claim. In the same manner, the IRS has just three years from the filing date or due date of the return (whichever is later) to evaluate an extra assessment on the tax that you didn't accurately report your salary.

Are there any exemptions to the seven-year rule?

Sometimes, you may need to hold onto your records longer than seven years. For example, you should anticipate keeping tax documents for retirement accounts, for example, IRAs until the point when the record is totally wiped out. If you file a claim for lost and useless securities or a bad debt deduction, you should keep those records for a long time. Moreover, if you amortize, devalue, or purchase or sell a property, you should keep property records until the point when the statute of limitations terminates for the year in which you discard the property. Keep in mind, the property isn't simply land or structures; it incorporates stocks, office equipment, and different assets.

It's also vital to take note of that now and again the statute of limitations is longer than three years. For example, in the event that you omit over 25% of your gross pay from your return, the IRS has seven years to assess an additional tax. Additionally, if you file a fake return or don't document one at all (we don't suggest either!), the statute of limitations never terminates. So this means superstars like Wesley Snipes and Lauryn Hill (both convicted of tax evasion) should anticipate keeping their tax records forever!

What about when it’s time to get rid of tax documents?

Before getting too excited and throwing your old tax returns away, check to ensure you don't have to keep it for different purposes. For example, certain leasers and even some insurance agencies may expect you to keep records longer than the IRS does. In the event that you do choose to dispose of tax records, make a point to shred them. Tax returns contain sensitive data that identity thieves live.

If I want to keep them, what is the best way to store my documents?

The ideal approach to store printed versions of tax documents is in a fire-proof safe. Alongside your tax records, you can keep other critical documents like the deed to your home, home loan and insurance information, your Will or Trust documents, and passwords to bank and investment funds. It's additionally a good idea to tell one other individual where you keep the key to the safe (e.g., a spouse or other trusted relatives). This way, if a crisis emerges, that individual will know how to get to any records they may need to keep your affairs in order.

Finally, in the event that you anticipate keeping your records for quite a while yet but also you don't need your home to resemble a scene of "Hoarders", consider scanning your documents and keeping a backup of the documents on a cloud service like Dropbox. The IRS accepts digital copies of records as long as they are legible. This method takes up far less space and is simpler to organize than a pile of papers.

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