April 15 has come and gone and another year of tax forms and shoeboxes full of receipts is behind us. But 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. This is called the “three-year law” and leads many people to believe they’re safe provided they retain their documents for this period of time.
However, if the IRS believes you have significantly underreported your income (by 25 percent or more), or believes there may be an indication of fraud, it may go back six years in an audit. To be safe, use the following guidelines.
Caution: Identity theft is a serious threat in today’s world, and it is important to take every precaution to avoid it. After it is no longer necessary to retain your tax records, financial statements, or any other documents with your personal information, you must dispose of these records by shredding them and not disposing of them by merely throwing them away in the trash.