How Long Should I Keep My Tax Records

How long you keep records is a combination of judgment and federal and state statutes of limitation. Federal income tax returns can usually be audited for up to three years after filing and up to six years if the IRS suspects unreported income. Therefore, it is wise to keep tax records at least seven years after a return is filed.

Generally, for most individuals, you may follow these recommended periods for your tax record document retention:

 Retention Period
Tax returns (uncomplicated) 7 years
Tax returns (all others) Permanent
W-2s and 1099s 7 years
Cancelled checks supporting tax deductions 7 years
Bank statements and Bank deposit slips 7 years
Charitable contribution documentation and Credit card statements 7 years
Receipts, diaries, logs pertaining to tax return 7 years
Investment purchase and sales slips and Dividend reinvestment records Ownership period + 7 years
Year-end brokerage statements and Mutual fund annual statements Ownership period + 7 years
Investment property purchase documents Ownership period + 7 years
Home purchase documents, home improvements receipts and cancelled checks Ownership period + 7 years
Home repair receipts and cancelled checks Warranty period for item
Retirement plan annual reports and IRA annual reports Permanent
IRA nondeductible contributions (Form 8606) Permanent
Insurance policies Life of policy + 3 years (Check with your agent. Liability for prior years can vary.)
Divorce documents Permanent
Loans Term of loan + 7 years
Estate planning documents Permanent

As always, there are special circumstances to consider with any of the above. Contact your accountant or tax preparer when planning for your particular situation.