How long to keep tax returns and records

This is a question with no easy answer; it depends on your circumstances. Below are some general guidelines.

  1. You owe additional tax and situations (2), (3) and (4) below do not apply to you: keep records for 4 years.
  2. You do not report income that you should report and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return: keep records for 6 years.
  3. You file a fraudulent return: keep records indefinitely.
  4. You do not file a return: keep records indefinitely.
  5. You file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return: keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
  6. You file a claim for loss of worthless securities or bad debt deduction: keep records for 7 years.
  7. Keep all employment records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
  8. If you sell property or investments, you’ll need to prove what you paid for them; so keep those records for at least four years after the tax year in which you reported the sale of that property or investment.

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