Back to top

Cannon & Company, LLP Blog

Click here to go back

What Tax Records Can You Throw Away?

Posted by Admin Posted on Oct 13 2020

What tax records can you throw away?

October 15 is the deadline for individual taxpayers who extended their 2019 tax returns. (The original April 15 filing deadline was extended this year to July 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) If you’re finally done filing last year’s return, you might wonder: Which tax records can you toss once you’re done? Now is a good time to go through old tax records and see what you can discard.

The general rules

At minimum, you should keep tax records for as long as the IRS has the ability to audit your tax return or assess additional taxes, which generally is three years after you file your return. This means you potentially can get rid of most records related to tax returns for 2016 and earlier years.

However, the statute of limitations extends to six years for taxpayers who understate their adjusted gross income (AGI) by more than 25%. What constitutes an understatement may go beyond simply not reporting items of income. So a general rule of thumb is to save tax records for six years from filing, just to be safe.

Keep some records longer

You need to hang on to some tax-related records beyond the statute of limitations. For example:

*Keep the tax returns themselves indefinitely, so you can prove to the IRS that you actually filed a legitimate return. (There’s no statute of limitations for an audit if you didn’t file a return or if you filed a fraudulent one.)

*Retain W-2 forms until you begin receiving Social Security benefits. Questions might arise regarding your work record or earnings for a particular year, and your W-2 helps provide the documentation needed.

*Keep records related to real estate or investments for as long as you own the assets, plus at least three years after you sell them and report the sales on your tax return (or six years if you want extra protection).

*Keep records associated with retirement accounts until you’ve depleted the accounts and reported the last withdrawal on your tax return, plus three (or six) years.

Other reasons to retain records

Keep in mind that these are the federal tax record retention guidelines. Your state and local tax record requirements may differ. In addition, lenders, co-op boards and other private parties may require you to produce copies of your tax returns as a condition to lending money, approving a purchase or otherwise doing business with you

. Contact us if you have questions or concerns about recordkeeping. © 2020

No Rendering of Advice
The information contained within this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.

Presentation of the information via the Internet is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an accountant-client relationship. Internet subscribers, users and online readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant.

Any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this website is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law.

Accuracy of Information
While we use reasonable efforts to furnish accurate and up-to-date information, we do not warrant that any information contained in or made available through this website is accurate, complete, reliable, current or error-free. We assume no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content of this website or such. If you wish to contact the webmaster, please contact info@cannon.pro or call 336-725-0635.

Disclaimer of Warranties and Limitations of Liability
This website is provided on an "as is" and "as available" basis. Use of this website is at your own risk. We and our suppliers disclaim all warranties. Neither we nor our suppliers shall be liable for any damages of any kind with the use of this website.

Links to Third Party Websites
For your convenience, this website may contain hyperlinks to websites and servers maintained by third parties. We do not control, evaluate, endorse or guarantee content found in those sites. We do not assume any responsibility or liability for the actions, products, services and content of these sites or the parties that operate them. Your use of such sites is entirely at your own risk.