You must keep your records as long as they may be needed for the administration of any provision of the Internal Revenue Code. Generally, this means you must keep records that support items shown on your return until the period of limitations for that return runs out.
The period of limitations is the period of time in which you can amend your return to claim a credit or refund or the IRS can assess additional tax. The periods of limitations that apply to income tax returns are shown below. Unless otherwise stated, the years refer to the period beginning after the return was filed. Returns filed before the due date are treated as being filed on the due date.
- If you owe additional tax and (2), (3), and (4) do not apply to you, the period of limitations is 3 years.
- If you do not report income that you should and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return, the period of limitations is 6 years.
- If you file a fraudulent return, there is no period of limitations.
- If you do not file a return, there is no period of limitations.
- If you file a claim for credit or refund after you filed your return, the period of limitations is the later of 3 years or 2 years after tax was paid.
- If you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities, the period of limitations is 7 years.