How Long Should I Keep Records?


Generally, you must keep your records that support an item of income or deductions on a tax return until the period of limitations for that return runs out.

The time you are required to keep records includes the period of time during which you can amend your tax return to claim a credit or refund, or that the IRS can assess more tax. The following situations contain the periods of limitations that apply to income tax returns. Unless otherwise stated, the years refer to the period after the return was filed. Returns filed before the due date are treated as filed on the due date.

Are the records connected to assets?

Keep records relating to property until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the property in a taxable disposition. You must keep these records to figure any depreciation, amortization, or depletion deduction and to figure the gain or loss when you sell or otherwise dispose of the property.

Example: You write a $4,000 check for hardwood flooring in a rental house in 2003. In 2011 you sell the rental property. The IRS may audit your 2011 return in 2012, 2013 or 2014, and you may need to prove that expenditure, because the flooring was set up on depreciation over 27 1/2 years and had some remaining un-depreciated basis at the time you sold the property.

Personal Records

1 Year3 Years6 YearsForeverSpecial Circumstances
Bank StatementsCredit Card StatementsSupporting Documents For Tax ReturnsCPA Audit ReportsCar Records (keep until the car is sold)
Paycheck StubsMedical BillsAccident Reports and ClaimsLegal RecordsCredit Card Receipts (keep until verified on your statement)
Canceled checksUtility RecordsMedical Bills (if tax-related)Important CorrespondenceInsurance Policies (keep for the life of the policy)
Monthly and quarterly mutual fund and retirement contribution statementsExpired Insurance PoliciesProperty Records / Improvement ReceiptsIncome Tax ReturnsMortgages / Deeds / Leases (keep 6 years beyond the agreement)
... ...Sales ReceiptsIncome Tax Payment ChecksPay Stubs (keep until reconciled with your W-2)
... ... Wage GarnishmentsInvestment Trade ConfirmationsProperty Records / improvement receipts (keep until property sold)
... ...Other Tax-Related BillsRetirement and Pension RecordsSales Receipts (keep for life of the warranty)

Business Records

1 Year3 Years6 YearsForeverSpecial Circumstances
Correspondence with Customers and VendorsBank Statements and ReconciliationsAccident Reports, ClaimsCPA Audit ReportsCar Records (keep until the car is sold)
Duplicate Deposit SlipsEmployee Personnel Records (after termination)Accounts Payable Ledgers and SchedulesLegal RecordsCredit Card Receipts (keep until verified on your statement)
Purchase Orders (other than Purchasing Department copy)Employment ApplicationsCancelled ChecksImportant CorrespondenceInsurance Policies (keep for the life of the policy)
Receiving SheetsExpired Insurance PoliciesEmployment Tax RecordsIncome Tax ReturnsMortgages / Deeds / Leases (keep 6 years beyond the agreement)
RequisitionsGeneral CorrespondencePayroll Records and Summaries, including payment to pensionersIncome Tax Payment ChecksPay Stubs (keep until reconciled with your W-2)
Stenographer's NotebooksInternal Audit Reports Sales RecordsInvestment Trade ConfirmationsProperty Records / improvement receipts (keep until property sold)
Stockroom Withdrawal FormsTime Cards For Hourly EmployeesTravel and Entertainment RecordsRetirement and Pension RecordsSales Receipts (keep for life of the warranty)