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Know When to Hold 'Em

Now that the tax filing season is over, you may be wondering how long to hold on to old income tax returns, along with the receipts, canceled checks and other documentation that accompany the return.  At a bare minimum, you should keep your records for three years after the due date of your return or two years after the payment of the tax, whichever is longer.  Property records, such as those concerning your home, should be kept as long as needed to determine the basis of the property.  Also, keep dated sales receipts for investment properties such as antiques, paintings or other collectibles so you can document any capital gains when you sell.  Hang on to the receipts you receive from charitable gifts of $250 or more.

Don’t assume that because the IRS cashed your check or issued you a refund that your deductions have been accepted.  Keep supporting evidence for your deductions, since the IRS can audit your return at any time during the three years after it is submitted.  If your return is audited and you are unable to produce records to substantiate a deduction, it may be disallowed and result in a deficiency.  It’s a good rule of thumb to keep all returns and related records at least ten years.


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