How Long to Store a Copy Tax Return

Storing your Copy Tax Return

There are many reasons that you should keep a copy tax return for each year that you file your taxes. They can be useful for obtaining financing and being prepared for an audit, however do we really need to keep every tax return for the rest of our lives? The answer is no. While some people may choose to keep a longer record of their copy tax returns than others, there is a pretty specific frame of time that they are important.

The 3 Year Rule

You should always keep a copy tax return for each of the most recent three years. This is because these can still be taxed if the IRS finds a reason. This can also increase if you aren’t careful. If you have a worthless security and need to claim it as a loss on your taxes, this can increase to seven years. The limit for assessing additional taxes can go to 6 years if it is found that at least 25 percent went unreported. Finally it can be unlimited if you fail to file a tax return. However this is not the case for most people, so 3 years should suffice. Since these years may still be taxed, it is important to retain a copy tax return in your records for reference.

The Ten Year Rule

There is another rule pertaining to keeping a copy tax return record. This related to the number of years that the IRS can review during an audit. If you are audited for any reason the IRS can pursue your audit for the previous 10 years. They will usually start with the current year and if it is found that you have a questionable trail, they will follow it as far as they possibly can legally. After 10 years, the IRS can no longer hold you liable for things that you have done on your income taxes. This limit is not because the IRS wants it, rather it is there because records can become lost over time and there is a need to purge old records from the files. If they did not, there would be a mountain of paperwork to sift through for every audit.

Additional Documents

When you are clearing out old tax return information there are supporting documents that should be considered. If you are in a position where you may be audited, then there is the possibility that you will need this supporting paperwork. These are papers that will help you prove your case in the event of an audit and should be kept with your copy tax return. Some common supporting documents include: Check stubs, Bank statements, records of your business, capital gain and loss statements, home expenses and the tax return copies themselves. Having these things available for the 10 year statute of limitations will help you to be prepared in the event of an audit.

Tax Information Storage

Be sure that you carefully store your copy tax return and supporting information as carefully and organized as possible. A great way to store them is in manila folders or envelopes that are filed by year. If you lose them or they become damaged for some reason, many of them can usually be replaced by the IRS. The older ones may be a bit tough but you should have no problem with the first 6 years. They can be requested either by phone or by mail and usually will arrive within 60 days. An older copy tax return may require a processing fee before it is sent to your office.

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Posted by on Sep 14 2011. Filed under Copy Past Tax Return. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

105 Comments for “How Long to Store a Copy Tax Return”

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