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Federal law requires you to maintain copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for three years. The three years begin at the date your tax return is filed, or the due date, whichever is later. In other words, you are required to retain documentation for a tax return filed on April 15, 2010 until April 15, 2013. This can be very confusing, especially because many people file extensions, and actually file their return later in the year, extending the time. To make it easier, we just simply recommend that you should have all documentation for at least the past four years in your file.

Personal Documents To Keep For Four Years:

  • Credit Card Statements

  • Bank Statements

  • Receipts for Charity, Medical, Mortgage Interest and Tax and any other documents used in the preparation of your tax return, including income documents such as W2 & 1099 forms, & Utility Records (for proof of residency)

  • School Enrollment Records for Children

Personal Records To Keep Forever:

  • Income Tax Returns

  • Income Tax Payment Checks

  • Real Estate Property Records / Improvement Receipts (or keep four years after property is sold)

  • Investment Trade Confirmations

Business Documents To Keep For Four Years

All Documents Used in the Preparation of Income, Sales, Excise, Franchise, and Payroll Tax Returns such as:

  • Bank Statements

  • Credit Card Statements

  • Petty Cash Vouchers

  • Sales Records

  • Payroll Time and Pay Slip Records

  • Personnel Records with Employees’ Data

  • Records of Physical Inventory

  • Any 1099 forms received for income earned or interest paid

  • Proof of Loan Interest Paid to Financial Institutions

  • Travel and Expense Logs

  • Mileage Logs for Vehicles Records

  • Copies of All IRS/State Revenue Department Correspondence

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.)

  • Corporate Documents (incorporation, charter, by-laws, etc.)

  • Real Estate Purchases/Deeds Legal Records,

  • Correspondence and Other Important Matters

  • Minutes

  • Books of Directors and Stockholders Property Appraisals by Outside Appraisers

  • Retirement and Pension Records

  • Tax Returns and Worksheets

  • Trademark and Patent Registrations

Special Circumstances

  • Asset Purchase Contracts/Bills of Sale (keep until 4 years after the asset 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 4 years beyond selling)

  • Other Bills (keep until payment is verified on the next bill)

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