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Hold On to Your Tax Paperwork

Keep returns and documentation for at least three years, the IRS says, sometimes longer

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Yes, you need to keep your tax papers. Hopefully you don't have this much! — Paul Taylor/Getty Images

Q. How long should I keep old tax paperwork?

 

A. The Internal Revenue Service suggests keeping tax records for at least three years after the filing date. That’s the time period the IRS typically has to examine filed paperwork or perform an audit on taxpayers, and also the time allowed for you to file an amended return should you discover errors on a past return.

 

If you own a business, it’s advisable to keep supporting documents for tax returns for six years. Keep the actual tax returns indefinitely because you’ll need them if you apply for new loans or disability insurance.

 

Updated April 2011

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