Tax records: What should you keep, and what can you toss?
Once you’ve filed your 2012 tax return, you may wonder what records you can toss and what you should keep. Here are some suggestions.
Keep records that directly support income or expense items on your tax return. For income, this includes W-2s, 1099s, and Form K-1s. Also keep records of any other income you might have received from other sources. It’s also a good idea to save your bank statements and investment statements from brokers.
For expense items, keep your cancelled checks as well as support for any itemized deductions you claimed. This includes acknowledgments from charitable organizations and backup for taxes paid, mortgage interest, medical deductions, work expenses, and miscellaneous deductions. Even if you don’t itemize, keep records of expenses for child care, medical insurance if you’re self-employed, and any other expenses that appear on your return.
The IRS can audit you routinely for three years after you file your return. But in cases where income is underreported, they can audit for up to six years. To be safe, keep your records for seven years.
Keep certain other records longer. These include records relating to your house purchase and any improvements you make. Also keep records of investment purchases, dividends reinvested, retirement plan contributions, and any major gifts you make or receive. And finally, keep copies of all your tax returns and W-2s in case you ever need to prove your earnings for social security purposes.
Please call our office if you have specific questions about recordkeeping.