Accounting | Consulting | Taxes

Record Retention Guide


How long should you keep your tax records? Here's a guide for businesses and individuals.

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), 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 Document To Keep For One Year

Business Documents To Keep For Three Years

Business Documents To Keep For Six Years

Business Documents 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
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

Personal Documents To Keep For Six Years

Personal Documents To Keep Forever

Special Circumstances