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NTA Blog: Low-Income Taxpayers Encounter Communication Barriers That Hinder Correspondence Audit Resolution

May 19. 2022 – Many taxpayers experience difficulties with correspondence audits. Once a return is selected for examination, the IRS […] The post NTA Blog: Low-Income Taxpayers Encounte...

TAS Tax Tip: Adjust Your Withholding to Ensure There’s No Surprises on Tax Day

May 17, 2022 – It is a good practice for everyone to do a paycheck check-up every year. Checking your […] The post TAS Tax Tip: Adjust Your Withholding to Ensure There’s No Surprises on...

TAS Tax Tip: Why do I owe a penalty and interest and what can I do about it?

May 10, 2022 – Do you owe a penalty? Here’s why and what you may be able to do about […] The post TAS Tax Tip: Why do I owe a penalty and interest and what can I do about it? appe...

NTA Blog: Despite Operating Legally in Many States, Marijuana-Related Businesses Face Significant Federal Income Tax Law Challenges

May 10, 2022 – As the National Taxpayer Advocate, I am the voice of *all* taxpayers within the IRS. As […] The post NTA Blog: Despite Operating Legally in Many States, Marijuana-Related...

TAS Tax Tip: How to handle a notification of tax-related identity theft

May 3, 2022 – Did you get a notification from IRS or the Social Security Administration (SSA) advising you that […] The post TAS Tax Tip: How to handle a notification of tax-related ide...

Taxpayer Advocate Service Partners With IRS to Provide Face-to-Face Saturday Help

Saturday Help The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is pleased to announce we are partnering with the IRS to offer in-person […] The post Taxpayer Advocate Service Partners With IRS to Provide ...

NTA Blog: IRS Online Accounts Do Not Have Sufficient Functionality and Integration With Existing Tools to Meet the Needs of Taxpayers and Tax Professionals

April 28, 2022 – The IRS has yet to develop and adopt a one-stop solution for online and digital offerings […] The post NTA Blog: IRS Online Accounts Do Not Have Sufficient Functionalit...

TAS Tax Tip: Tax terms – find the meaning of them by searching our website

April 26, 2022 – The IRS uses many words and terms related to taxes that aren’t always easy to understand. […] The post TAS Tax Tip: Tax terms – find the meaning of them by searching ou...

National Taxpayer Advocate to Testify with IRS Commissioner at Government Operations Subcommittee Hearing

4/20/2022 – On Thursday, April 21 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins will testify in […] The post National Taxpayer Advocate to Testify with IRS Commiss...

TAS Tax Tip: Need help resolving a tax amount owed or finding the right payment option?

April 19, 2022 – Got a tax bill for your federal tax return? We have resources to help you resolve […] The post TAS Tax Tip: Need help resolving a tax amount owed or finding the right p...

Retention Guide

Storing tax records: How long is long enough?

April 15 has come and gone and another year of tax forms and shoeboxes full of receipts is behind us. But what should be done with those documents after your check or refund request is in the mail?

Federal law requires you to maintain copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for three years. This is called the "three-year law" and leads many people to believe they're safe provided they retain their documents for this period of time.

However, if the IRS believes you have significantly underreported your income (by 25 percent or more), it may go back six years in an audit. If there is any indication of fraud, or you do not file a return, no period of limitation exists.To be safe, use the following guidelines.

Business Records To Keep... Personal Records To Keep...
1 Year 1 Year
3 Years 3 Years
6 Years 6 Years
Forever Forever
Special Circumstances

Business Documents To Keep For One Year

  • Correspondence with Customers and Vendors
  • Duplicate Deposit Slips
  • Purchase Orders (other than Purchasing Department copy)
  • Receiving Sheets
  • Requisitions
  • Stenographer's Notebooks
  • Stockroom Withdrawal Forms

Business Documents To Keep For Three Years

  • Employee Personnel Records (after termination)
  • Employment Applications
  • Expired Insurance Policies
  • General Correspondence
  • Internal Audit Reports
  • Internal Reports
  • Petty Cash Vouchers
  • Physical Inventory Tags
  • Savings Bond Registration Records of Employees
  • Time Cards For Hourly Employees

Business Documents To Keep For Six Years

  • Accident Reports, Claims
  • Accounts Payable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Accounts Receivable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Bank Statements and Reconciliations
  • Cancelled Checks
  • Cancelled Stock and Bond Certificates
  • Employment Tax Records
  • Expense Analysis and Expense Distribution Schedules
  • Expired Contracts, Leases
  • Expired Option Records
  • Inventories of Products, Materials, Supplies
  • Invoices to Customers
  • Notes Receivable Ledgers, Schedules
  • Payroll Records and Summaries, including payment to pensioners
  • Plant Cost Ledgers
  • Purchasing Department Copies of Purchase Orders
  • Records related to net operating losses (NOL's)
  • Sales Records
  • Subsidiary Ledgers
  • Time Books
  • Travel and Entertainment Records
  • Vouchers for Payments to Vendors, Employees, etc.
  • Voucher Register, Schedules

Business Records To Keep Forever

While federal guidelines do not require you to keep tax records "forever," in many cases there will be other reasons you'll want to retain these documents indefinitely.

  • Audit Reports from CPAs/Accountants
  • Cancelled Checks for Important Payments (especially tax payments)
  • Cash Books, Charts of Accounts
  • Contracts, Leases Currently in Effect
  • Corporate Documents (incorporation, charter, by-laws, etc.)
  • Documents substantiating fixed asset additions
  • Deeds
  • Depreciation Schedules
  • Financial Statements (Year End)
  • General and Private Ledgers, Year End Trial Balances
  • Insurance Records, Current Accident Reports, Claims, Policies
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • IRS Revenue Agent Reports
  • Journals
  • Legal Records, Correspondence and Other Important Matters
  • Minutes Books of Directors and Stockholders
  • Mortgages, Bills of Sale
  • Property Appraisals by Outside Appraisers
  • Property Records
  • Retirement and Pension Records
  • Tax Returns and Worksheets
  • Trademark and Patent Registrations

Personal Documents To Keep For One Year

While it's important to keep year-end mutual fund and IRA contribution statements forever, you don't have to save monthly and quarterly statements once the year-end statement has arrived.

Personal Documents To Keep For Three Years

  • Credit Card Statements
  • Medical Bills (in case of insurance disputes)
  • Utility Records
  • Expired Insurance Policies

Personal Documents To Keep For Six Years

  • Supporting Documents For Tax Returns
  • Accident Reports and Claims
  • Medical Bills (if tax-related)
  • Sales Receipts
  • Wage Garnishments
  • Other Tax-Related Bills

Personal Records To Keep Forever

  • CPA Audit Reports
  • Legal Records
  • Important Correspondence
  • Income Tax Returns
  • Income Tax Payment Checks
  • Property Records / Improvement Receipts (or six years after property sold)
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • Retirement and Pension Records (Forms 5448, 1099-R and 8606 until all distributions are made from your IRA or other qualified plan)

Special Circumstances

  • Car Records (keep until the car is sold)
  • Credit Card Receipts (keep until verified on your statement)
  • Insurance Policies (keep for the life of the policy)
  • Mortgages / Deeds / Leases (keep 6 years beyond the agreement)
  • Pay Stubs (keep until reconciled with your W-2)
  • Sales Receipts (keep for life of the warranty)
  • Stock and Bond Records (keep for 6 years beyond selling)
  • Warranties and Instructions (keep for the life of the product)
  • Other Bills (keep until payment is verified on the next bill)
  • Depreciation Schedules and Other Capital Asset Records (keep for 3 years after the tax life of the asset)