How Long Do We Have to Keep Tax Records?

In keeping with the spirit of Get Organized Month, I had planned to get rid of a lot of old financial records–taxes, bank statements, etc–at the same time I am getting this year’s taxes in order. But when it comes right down to it, I’m afraid to throw anything out. I just keep envisioning that the following week we will be audited and I will have thrown out the very records we need to show the IRS. Is this a realistic, or an irrational fear?

The question of which records to keep, and for how long, is one of the few areas of downsizing the home where the “keepers” may have the upper hand over the “throwers.” And though many of us would probably really love to get rid of those cumbersome tax returns and supporting documents, it’s best to proceed with caution in this area.

We’re no experts about this sort of thing, but here are a couple of useful sites that will give you an idea of what some of the general guidelines are.

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98513,00.html

http://www.onlineorganizing.com/ExpertAdviceToolboxTips.asp?tipsheet=24

As always with legal and financial matters, it’s best to check with your accountant and/or lawyer to ask what’s best for you.

JH

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