*** VSA WILL MAINTAIN OUR OFFICE COPIES OF CLIENTS DOCUMENTS FOR 5 YEARS ***
Storing your copies of tax records: How long is long enough?
April 15 has come and gone and another year of tax forms and shoe boxes full of receipts is behind you. What should be done with those documents after your check or refund request is in the mail?
Federal law requires you to maintain copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for three years (Colorado requires four years) and this leads many people to believe that they are safe, provided they retain their documents for this period of time.
However, if the IRS believes you have significantly under-reported your income (by 25% or more) they may go back six years in an audit.
To be safe, we recommend that clients retain their original records according to the following:
DOCUMENTS TO KEEP FOR ONE YEAR
While it is important to keep year-end mutual fund and IRA contribution statements until 6 years after you sell an investment, you do not have to save monthly and quarterly statements once the year-end statement has arrived.
PERSONAL DOCUMENTS TO KEEP FOR THREE YEARS (4 YEARS FOR COLORADO)
· Credit Card Statements
· Medical Bills (in case of insurance disputes)
· Utility Records
· Expired Insurance Policies
DOCUMENTS TO KEEP FOR SIX YEARS
· Cancelled checks and bank statements
· Supporting documents for tax returns
· Accident Reports and Claims
· Medical Bills (if tax related)
· Property Records / Improvement Receipts
· Sales Receipts
· Wage Garnishments
· Other Tax-Related Bills
· Legal Records – Decrees / Judgements (FOREVER)
· Trademark / Patent Registrations (FOREVER)
· Income Tax Returns – Return Only (FOREVER)
· If you have a Net Operating Loss (NOL) or other carry-forward, you need to keep the full supporting
documents for all returns from the creation of the NOL to 6 years after you use up the full amount.
· Documents supporting what you paid (basis) for anything you still own (6 years after you sell)
· Investment Trade Confirmations (Only for 6 years after selling the investment)
· Retirement and Pension Records (Up to 6 years after complete liquidation of the account)
· Car Records (Keep until the car is sold)
· Credit Card Receipts (Keep until verified on your statement. If supporting a business expense – then keep
· Insurance Policies (Keep for the life of the policy)
· Mortgages / Deeds / Leases (Keep 6 years beyond the agreement)
· Pay Stubs (Keep until reconciled with your W-2)
· Property Records / Improvement Receipts (Keep until 6 years after property is sold)
· Sales Receipts (Keep for the life of the warranty)
· Stock and Bond Records (Keep for 6 years beyond selling)
· Warranties and Instructions (Keep for the life of the product)
· Other Bills (Keep until payment is verified on the next bill)
· Depreciation Schedules and Other Capital Asset Records (Keep for 6 years after the tax life of the asset)