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Important Proof Documentation for Your Tax Returns
Now that the tax return period is over, at least for those who have not requested an extension, there is always the temptation to put off all the tax preparation documentation and move on to new things. However, before you throw away your tax documentation, you should know that the IRS expects you to file your documents for at least 3 years. Indeed, the IRS can audit your returns for up to three years from the date they are filed. However, if you have understated your income in any given year by more than 25%, the IRS can audit you after 6 years of filing such an “erroneous” statement. Finally, if you have filed a fraudulent tax return or if you have not filed a tax return at all, the IRS can scrutinize you indefinitely. Therefore, even if you have filed your tax returns correctly, you should still keep your tax return documents for at least 3 years, just in case. However, note that many states require taxpayers to keep tax records for at least four years. Therefore, for added security, it would be best to keep your tax documentation for at least 4 years after filing the returns.
However, there are still other documents that you may need to keep longer for various reasons:
- If you have realized a capital gain loss and need to deduct the loss from future taxable income, you will need to keep documentation of the loss for each year that you deduct the losses and therefore you will need documentation of the loss. the loss for at least 4 years after the year you made these deductions.
- If you have made major renovations to your home, you will need to keep receipts and other adjustment documents with your home purchase records until you sell the home. This is because you will need the supporting documents when calculating the capital gains tax on the sale of the house.
- If you sold your property through a 1031 exchange, supporting documentation from the sales agreement will be required as long as you receive the sales exchange deposits. You must keep the documentation for at least 4 years after you receive your final deposit and close the sale.
- If you had deferred funds such as deferred business losses, deferred taxes on the sale of a home and deferred passive loss, you will need the relevant documentation until you have exhausted the carryforward and 4 years after.
- If you are disabled and receive tax credits due to your disability, you will need to keep records of a doctor who declared you disabled to keep proof of the date you were officially declared disabled .
- If you make retirement contributions, keep contribution records, such as IRS Form 8606, Form 5498, and Form 1099-R, until you receive the final distribution from your retirement fund.
- At times, you may need to take photographs as supporting documentation. This happens when you have a home office and claim deductions for loss of damage or theft.
For the rest of the supporting documents such as pay stubs, copies of your tax returns, fund distribution forms, investment records, bank statements, medical bills and any other supporting receipts, you can file them for the four-year period. When you can safely establish that you will no longer need it, you can and should destroy the documentation (one option is to shred it) to protect your private information. However, it is always advisable to keep an electronic file of all your documents for future reference.
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