Money Matters
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? about tax papers

Does anyone know how long you should keep all our tax info?  We have a box from every year in our basement - yes I'm one of those people that prefer paper copies of stuff.  1 of my projects to do before DD is on summer break is de clutter the basement storage.  I was thinking getting rid of some of these tax boxes would be good.  Next question - is there somewhere you can shred lots of papers :)

Re: ? about tax papers

  • What I've heard is 7 years unless the IRS suspects that you've committed fraud.  Then they're able to go back as far as they want.  Due to that, I have everything.  Doesn't take up a lot of space for me.  I don't have anything weird.

    @hoffse probably knows for sure though.......

    As for the paper shredding, I have my own shredder.  Good enough in small batches.  My bank does one of those free shred days a couple times a year, but I've never used it.

    My mom had an old BBQ grill that used charcoal, she burned her stuff one year.
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  • csuavecsuave
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    We have confidential destruction boxes at work and it is OK for us to put personal stuff in there.

  • I've always heard 7 years too. Ours doesn't take up much space so right now I have a designated "taxes" box that probably goes back 10 years. As I run out of space I'll start shredding the older years first to make room for the new. 
  • This might be worth a read.  It's on the "business" page, but there seem to be a lot of references pointed to this page:

    https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/how-long-should-i-keep-records

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  • vlagrl35vlagrl35
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    I was thinking 7 years so everything beyond that get rid of and shred. My husband has photography stuff that I can't get rid of. Trying to sell a few items DD doesn't use anymore. Decided I can't quite sell my maternity clothes yet. In a couple years I probably will if we're not pregnant by then. It's important to me to get some more open space in our basement and I'm so over garage sales I'd rather donate.
  • vlagrl35vlagrl35
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    My MILs bank does shred days - looks like you can only bring 2 paper boxes full at a time.  Well it's a start!
  • hoffsehoffse
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    The statute of limitations is 3 years from filing for most situations.  It's 6 years for certain situations like gross under-reporting of income.  It's unlimited if you never filed a tax return or committed fraud.

    7 years covers the 6 year statute + the extra year it takes to actually file.  It's overkill for most people though and extremely conservative.  If you keep stuff for 7 years you should be good as long as you always file on time and aren't actively committing fraud.

    If you want to declutter and still keep your records you can just scan everything.  The IRS doesn't need originals.  I don't keep paper copies of anything related to taxes.


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  • vlagrl35vlagrl35
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    Thanks for clarifying @hoffse - I'll probably stick with the 7 years just to be safe.
  • Cautionary Tale:

    At least keep the proof you filed.  Forever...or at least scanned.

    Not Federal, but I had the State of Louisiana come after me 14 years later for "not filing" in 2000.  And...gee...how interesting they knew how much I owed for that year...yet...not how much had already been taken out of my check throughout that year.

    I ended up paying over $1,000 of taxes I didn't owe because I no longer had ANY records from that year, including proof I had filed.  They claimed the same thing for 2009, but I did have proof I'd filed for that year.

    Then again, hopefully most of you don't live in a state that runs those kind of con games on their citizenry.

  • vlagrl35vlagrl35
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    @short+sassy - omg that would suck!  Our CPA keeps all the files and I could upload it from his website if I needed to.
  • I have all my files as paper since 2003.... I'd rather just keep it all in a box in the basement then go to the trouble to scan it all. I could toss/shred it, but the items from that way back are not that thick or troublesome to keep, so I do.
    jtmh2012
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