Record Retention Guide

Storing tax records: How long is long enough?

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), or believes there may be indication of fraud, it may go back six years in an audit. 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


icon-cautionCaution: Identity theft is a serious threat in today's world, and it is important to take every precaution to avoid it. After it is no longer necessary to retain your tax records, financial statements, or any other documents with your personal information, you should dispose of these records by shredding them and not disposing of them by merely throwing them away in the trash.

 

Business Documents To Keep For One Year

Business Documents To Keep For Three Years

Business Documents To Keep For Six Years

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.

Personal Documents To Keep For One Year

Personal Documents To Keep For Three Years

Personal Documents To Keep For Six Years

Personal Records To Keep Forever

Special Circumstances