General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

How long do I really need to keep my tax returns?

Asked by tinyfaery (40478points) September 29th, 2008

I do not own a house. I do not, nor have I ever, itemized my tax returns. I’ve never made a lot of money. I do have a retirement account, but it doesn’t have a lot in it. Really, what are my chances of being audited? And how long should I hold on to all this paperwork?

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5 Answers

marinelife's avatar

From Kiplinger.com:

“You’ll want to keep tax returns forever. You’ll need them when you apply for a loan or apply for disability insurance. Plus, old tax forms can be useful if you can’t track down some of your other paperwork—like showing taxes you’ve already paid for dividends and capital gains distributions you reinvested. You might be able to find some of the information in those old tax returns. But you usually can throw away supporting documents—those files you hold onto just in case you’re audited—three years after filing that tax return, or six years if you have your own business. You generally can’t be audited after that.”

Note: the IRS says the same.

tinyfaery's avatar

Dividends? Capital Gains? I don’t have any of that stuff. This is my point. I have a student loan and a retirement account. They each send me year end statements. Wouldn’t it make more sense for me to just keep those statements and get rid of my tax stuff?

marinelife's avatar

Your call, of course. The IRS on their site says keep ‘em forever. If you choose not to and you need them later, you can get a copy (there is a fee).

Snoopy's avatar

@tiny the correct answer is forever. The IRS can audit back as far as they want if the suspect fraud.

Now, how likely is it that you will be audited? It is low. It is even lower if you haven’t committed fraud and your returns are straight forward. But there is always a possibility.

loser's avatar

I keep mine forever. Now, can I actually find them? Um…

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