Many times we are asked, “how long do I keep my records”. I (Judy Gibbs, owner) have arrived at an answer to this question that I’d like to share. The common answer is to keep your records for 3-7 years. Less years if the tax return is basic and has no business deductions claimed. Up to 7 years if you have claimed income and expenses for a business on your tax return. However, this answer is only for the bank statements, receipts, and other daily records for your taxes, not for the actual tax return.
Please keep your actual tax return, with its primary documents, (ie: W-2’s, 1099-R’s, 1099’s of all sorts, 1098, K-1’s, etc) forever. I have experienced in the past 5 years California Franchise Tax Board requesting proof of a tax return filed back in the 90’s. If you ignore these requests, they will actually create a number out of thin air as your income and eventually start to collect on this assessment if they are not responded to. My customers who have had copies of their tax returns made this response to them very easy. Also, in the fact of our current problem with identity theft, you may need to prove your income earned over the years if your file gets hacked into, to get your correct social security. I am only able to keep copies of your records back 5-7 years because of lack of storage space. Please keep the paper copies of your own records forever. Let your heirs throw them away.
The other receipts you need to keep forever are the receipts or records for assets you still own. This includes: all purchase and refinance papers on your home you own; major improvements to your home or one that has turned into a rental; records of all investments you still have, stock purchases, history of IRA deposits; receipts for cars you still own; receipts with serial numbers of guns you purchased, jewelry and records of people you may have sold them too; or any asset or item of growing worth of any kind.