How long should I keep records?
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The length of time you should keep a document
depends on the action, expense, or event the
document records. Generally, you must keep your
records that support an item of income or
deductions on a tax return until the period of
limitations for that return runs out.
The time you are required to keep records includes the period of time
during which you can amend your tax return to claim a credit or refund, or
that the IRS can assess more tax. The following situations contain the
periods of limitations that apply to income tax returns. Unless otherwise
stated, the years refer to the period after the return was filed. Returns
filed before the due date are treated as filed on the due date.
You owe additional tax and situations (2), (3), and (4), below, do
not apply to you; keep records for 3 years.
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 for 6
You file a fraudulent income tax return; keep records
You do not file a return; keep records indefinitely.
You file a claim for credit or refund* after you file your return;
keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original
return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is
Your claim is due to a bad debt deduction; keep records for 7
Your claim is due to a loss from worthless securities; keep records
for 7 years.
Keep information on an asset for the life of the asset, even when
you dispose of the asset; keep records indefinitely.
Keep all employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date
that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
The following questions should be applied to each record as you decide
whether to keep a document or throw it away.
Are the records connected to assets?
Keep records relating to property until the period of limitations
expires for the year in which you dispose of the property in a taxable
disposition. You must keep these records to figure any depreciation,
amortization, or depletion deduction and to figure the gain or loss when you
sell or otherwise dispose of the property.
If you received property in a nontaxable exchange, you must keep the
records on the old property, as well as on the new property, until the
period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the new
property in a taxable disposition.
What should I do with my records for nontax purposes?
When your records are no longer needed for tax purposes, do not discard them
until you check to see if you have to keep them longer for other purposes.
For example, your insurance company or creditors may require you to keep
them longer than the IRS does.