How Long to Keep Tax Returns: 7 Questions to Consider

It’s always a relief once taxes are filed for the year. But what do you do with all the paperwork afterward? How long should you keep your tax returns and records?

What is the Period of Limitations?

According to the IRS, the period of limitations is the period of time in which you can amend your tax return to claim a credit or refund, or the IRS can assess additional tax.

How Long to Keep Tax Returns (according to the IRS)

For the actual tax return itself, the IRS advises keeping them forever. I would 100% agree with that.

Especially in the digital age, where everything can be saved on a hard drive or backed up in the cloud, there’s no reason to toss your actual tax returns.

Period of Limitations That Apply to Income Tax Returns

- Keep records for 3 years if situations (4), (5), and (6) below do not apply to you. - Keep records indefinitely if you do not file a return.

Unique Requirements for Property Owners

According to the IRS, you should keep records relating to property “until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the property.” 

How Long Should I Keep Tax Returns as a Small Business Owner?

A business owner probably should plan to keep at least six years worth of 1099s and other records of business income and expenses to be safe.

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