Back to top

Client Login

Subscribe to our Newsletter


News

Tax benefits and resources for people experiencing homelessness

July 1, 2022 – The Taxpayer Advocate Service asks you to help spread the message about resources available to the […] The post Tax benefits and resources for people experiencing homeles...

NTA Blog: Do You Need to Electronically Sign a Tax Form That Cannot Be E-Filed? Make it Digital.

June 30, 2022 – For the more than 40 forms that cannot be e-filed, the IRS permits paper filing of those […] The post NTA Blog: Do You Need to Electronically Sign a Tax Form That Cannot...

NTA Blog: Beginning Today, Some of Our Nation’s Most Vulnerable Taxpayers Will Automatically Have Their Accounts Excluded From Assignment to Private Collection Agencies

June 24, 2022 – Since 2018, TAS has been urging the IRS to stop assigning to private collection agencies (PCAs) […] The post NTA Blog: Beginning Today, Some of Our Nation’s Most Vulnera...

National Taxpayer Advocate identifies key objectives, expresses concern about refund delays, and low levels of phone service.

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins released her statutorily mandated mid-year report to Congress. The report expresses concern about continuing […] The post National Taxpayer Advocate...

National Taxpayer Advocate issues mid-year report to Congress; expresses concern about continued refund delays and poor taxpayer service

The post National Taxpayer Advocate issues mid-year report to Congress; expresses concern about continued refund delays and poor taxpayer service appeared first on Taxpayer Advocate Service. ...

See How Low Income Taxpayer Clinics Help Taxpayers Get Results

June 10, 2022  – Find out more about Low Income Taxpayer Clinics and how to become part of their important […] The post See How Low Income Taxpayer Clinics Help Taxpayers Get Results ap...

TAS News: NTA named Most Powerful Women in Accounting for 2022

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is pleased to announce that the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and CPA Practice Advisor […] The post TAS News: NTA named Most Powerful Women in Account...

NTA Blog: Apply for a rewarding career with Taxpayer Advocate Service. You too can make a meaningful impact on peoples’ lives every day.

June 8, 2022 – After several decades of working in the tax controversy arena, both in the private sector and […] The post NTA Blog: Apply for a rewarding career with Taxpayer Advocate S...

NTA Blog: You’re Never Too Old to File a Return – Taxes and the Elderly

May 26, 2022 – Taxpayers who are winding down full-time work may think that they can also wind down their […] The post NTA Blog: You’re Never Too Old to File a Return – Taxes and ...

TAS Tax Tip: What to do if you receive notification your tax return is being examined or audited

May 25, 2022 – Information you need to know if you received a notification that IRS is auditing (examining) your […] The post TAS Tax Tip: What to do if you receive notification your ta...

Retention Guide

Storing tax records: How long is long enough?

April 15 has come and gone and another year of tax forms and shoeboxes full of receipts is behind us. But what should be done with those documents after your check or refund request is in the mail?

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), it may go back six years in an audit. If there is any indication of fraud, or you do not file a return, no period of limitation exists.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

Business Documents To Keep For One Year

  • Correspondence with Customers and Vendors
  • Duplicate Deposit Slips
  • Purchase Orders (other than Purchasing Department copy)
  • Receiving Sheets
  • Requisitions
  • Stenographer's Notebooks
  • Stockroom Withdrawal Forms

Business Documents To Keep For Three Years

  • Employee Personnel Records (after termination)
  • Employment Applications
  • Expired Insurance Policies
  • General Correspondence
  • Internal Audit Reports
  • Internal Reports
  • Petty Cash Vouchers
  • Physical Inventory Tags
  • Savings Bond Registration Records of Employees
  • Time Cards For Hourly Employees

Business Documents To Keep For Six Years

  • Accident Reports, Claims
  • Accounts Payable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Accounts Receivable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Bank Statements and Reconciliations
  • Cancelled Checks
  • Cancelled Stock and Bond Certificates
  • Employment Tax Records
  • Expense Analysis and Expense Distribution Schedules
  • Expired Contracts, Leases
  • Expired Option Records
  • Inventories of Products, Materials, Supplies
  • Invoices to Customers
  • Notes Receivable Ledgers, Schedules
  • Payroll Records and Summaries, including payment to pensioners
  • Plant Cost Ledgers
  • Purchasing Department Copies of Purchase Orders
  • Records related to net operating losses (NOL's)
  • Sales Records
  • Subsidiary Ledgers
  • Time Books
  • Travel and Entertainment Records
  • Vouchers for Payments to Vendors, Employees, etc.
  • Voucher Register, Schedules

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.

  • Audit Reports from CPAs/Accountants
  • Cancelled Checks for Important Payments (especially tax payments)
  • Cash Books, Charts of Accounts
  • Contracts, Leases Currently in Effect
  • Corporate Documents (incorporation, charter, by-laws, etc.)
  • Documents substantiating fixed asset additions
  • Deeds
  • Depreciation Schedules
  • Financial Statements (Year End)
  • General and Private Ledgers, Year End Trial Balances
  • Insurance Records, Current Accident Reports, Claims, Policies
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • IRS Revenue Agent Reports
  • Journals
  • Legal Records, Correspondence and Other Important Matters
  • Minutes Books of Directors and Stockholders
  • Mortgages, Bills of Sale
  • Property Appraisals by Outside Appraisers
  • Property Records
  • Retirement and Pension Records
  • Tax Returns and Worksheets
  • Trademark and Patent Registrations

Personal Documents To Keep For One Year

While it's important to keep year-end mutual fund and IRA contribution statements forever, you don't have to save monthly and quarterly statements once the year-end statement has arrived.

Personal Documents To Keep For Three Years

  • Credit Card Statements
  • Medical Bills (in case of insurance disputes)
  • Utility Records
  • Expired Insurance Policies

Personal Documents To Keep For Six Years

  • Supporting Documents For Tax Returns
  • Accident Reports and Claims
  • Medical Bills (if tax-related)
  • Sales Receipts
  • Wage Garnishments
  • Other Tax-Related Bills

Personal Records To Keep Forever

  • CPA Audit Reports
  • Legal Records
  • Important Correspondence
  • Income Tax Returns
  • Income Tax Payment Checks
  • Property Records / Improvement Receipts (or six years after property sold)
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • Retirement and Pension Records (Forms 5448, 1099-R and 8606 until all distributions are made from your IRA or other qualified plan)

Special Circumstances

  • Car Records (keep until the car is sold)
  • Credit Card Receipts (keep until verified on your statement)
  • Insurance Policies (keep for the life of the policy)
  • Mortgages / Deeds / Leases (keep 6 years beyond the agreement)
  • Pay Stubs (keep until reconciled with your W-2)
  • Sales Receipts (keep for life of the warranty)
  • Stock and Bond Records (keep for 6 years beyond selling)
  • Warranties and Instructions (keep for the life of the product)
  • Other Bills (keep until payment is verified on the next bill)
  • Depreciation Schedules and Other Capital Asset Records (keep for 3 years after the tax life of the asset)