How Many Years Do I Need to Keep My Financial Records in Case of an Audit?
Having complete and detailed records are crucial to the preparation and support for any income tax return. For most of us, we wonder how long we need to keep our tax records after we have filed a return. In most cases, the answer is three years.
When You Should Store Your Records for Longer Than Three Years
The IRS provides some additional examples of support information that should be stored or maintained longer
- You owe additional tax and situations (2), (3), and (4), below, do not apply to you; keep records for three 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 six years.
- You file a fraudulent return; keep records indefinitely.
- 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 three years from the date you filed your original return or two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
- You file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction; keep records for seven years.
- Keep all employment tax records for at least four years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
Electronic Financial Records
The use of electronic media and scanning technology has made it much easier to store records. Instead of bulky file cabinets, records can be stored on hard drives or other media. The important consideration is that the electronic records must be readily available if needed.
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