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Friday, November 30, 2007

Recordkeeping Guidelines

If you are confused as to which records are important to keep and for how long, this may help. You need to keep records of all of your earnings, usually some type of 1099 form. You also need to hold onto records of expense if you plan to itemize deductions or claim exclusions or credits. Remember to send copies, never originals, to the IRS if asked for backup. Below we list the typical types of tax records.

Form What It Reports
1099-R Retirement income or distributions
1099-DIV Dividend earnings
1099-INT Taxable interest
1099-B Capital gains
1099-MISC Miscellaneous earnings
1099-S Proceeds from real estate transactions
1065/Schedule K-1 Partnership gains or losses

How long to keep your records?

The IRS typically has three years to audit your tax return, so keep anything relevant at least that long. If you underreport income, they have six years to audit you. If you don’t file or file falsely, they have forever. We list general guidelines.

Type of Record How Long to Keep
Records of income & expense 3 years, 7 if possible
Investments other than real estate Until you sell
Real estate 7 years after you sell
Tax returns 6 years

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