Wink Inc. Enrolled Agents America’s Tax Experts ®
Wink Tax Services
Record Retention Guide

How Long To Keep Tax Records

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. Table 1 contains the periods of limitations that apply to income tax returns. 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. Table 1. Period of Limitations IF you... THEN the period is... 1. Owe additional tax and (2), (3), and (4) do not apply to you 3 years 2. Do not report income that you should and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return 6 years 3. File a fraudulent return No limit 4. Do not file a return No limit 5. File a claim for credit or refund after you filed your return The later of 3 years or 2 years after tax was paid. 6. File a claim for a loss from worthless securities 7 years Property: 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 your basis for computing gain or loss when you sell or otherwise dispose of the property. Generally, if you received property in a nontaxable exchange, your basis in that property is the same as the basis of the property you gave up. You must keep the records on the old property, as well as the new property, until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the new property in a taxable disposition. Keeping records for nontax purposes: When your records are no longer needed for tax purposes, do not discard them until you check to see if they should be kept longer for other purposes. Your insurance company or creditors may require you to keep certain records longer than the IRS does.

Why Keep Records?

There are many reasons to keep records. In addition to tax purposes, you may need to keep records for insurance purposes or for getting a loan. Good records will help you: Identify sources of income. You may receive money or property from a variety of sources. Your records can identify the sources of your income. You need this information to separate business from nonbusiness income and taxable from nontaxable income. Keep track of expenses. You may forget an expense unless you record it when it occurs. You can use your records to identify expenses for which you can claim a deduction. This will help you determine if you can itemize deductions on your tax return. Keep track of the basis of property. You need to keep records that show the basis of your property. This includes the original cost or other basis of the property and any improvements you made. Prepare tax returns. You need records to prepare your tax return. Good records help you to file quickly and accurately. Support items reported on tax returns. You must keep records in case the IRS has a question about an item on your return. If the IRS examines your tax return, you may be asked to explain the items reported. Good records will help you explain any item and arrive at the correct tax with a minimum of effort. If you do not have records, you may have to spend time getting statements and receipts from various sources. If you cannot produce the correct documents, you may have to pay additional tax and be subject to penalties.

Kinds of Records To Keep

Basic records Basic records are documents that everybody should keep. These are the records that prove your income and expenses. If you own a home or investments, your basic records should contain documents related to those items. Table 2. Proof of Income and Expense FOR items concerning your... KEEP as basic records... Income Form(s) W-2 Form(s) 1099 Bank statements Brokerage statements Form(s) K-1 Expenses Sales slips Invoices Receipts Canceled checks or other proof of payment Written communications from qualified charities Home Closing statements Purchase and sales invoices Proof of payment Insurance records Receipts for improvement costs Investments Brokerage statements Mutual fund statements Form(s) 1099 Form(s) 2439

Income

Your basic records prove the amounts you report as income on your tax return. Your income may include wages, dividends, interest, and partnership or S corporation distributions. Your records also can prove that certain amounts are not taxable, such as tax-exempt interest. Note: If you receive a Form W-2, keep Copy C until you begin receiving social security benefits. This will help protect your benefits in case there is a question about your work record or earnings in a particular year. Review the information shown on your annual (for workers over age 25) Social Security Statement.

Expenses

Your basic records prove the expenses for which you claim a deduction (or credit) on your tax return. Your deductions may include alimony, charitable contributions, mortgage interest, and real estate taxes. You also may have child care expenses for which you can claim a credit.

Home

Your basic records should enable you to determine the basis or adjusted basis of your home. You need this information to determine if you have a gain or loss when you sell your home or to figure depreciation if you use part of your home for business purposes or for rent. Your records should show the purchase price, settlement or closing costs, and the cost of any improvements. They also may show any casualty losses deducted and insurance reimbursements for casualty losses. Your records also should include a copy of Form 2119, Sale of Your Home, if you sold your previous home before May 7, 1997, and postponed tax on the gain from that sale. When you sell your home, your records should show the sales price and any selling expenses, such as commissions.

Investments

Your basic records should enable you to determine your basis in an investment and whether you have a gain or loss when you sell it. Investments include stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Your records should show the purchase price, sales price, and commissions. They may also show any reinvested dividends, stock splits and dividends, load charges, and original issue discount (OID).

Proof of Payment

One of your basic records is proof of payment. You should keep these records to support certain amounts shown on your tax return. Proof of payment alone is not proof that the item claimed on your return is allowable. You also should keep other documents that will help prove that the item is allowable. Generally, you prove payment with a cash receipt, financial account statement, credit card statement, canceled check, or substitute check. If you make payments in cash, you should get a dated and signed receipt showing the amount and the reason for the payment. If you make payments by electronic funds transfer, you may be able to prove payment with an account statement. Table 3. Proof of Payment IF payment is by... THEN the statement must show the... Cash Amount Payee's name Transaction date Check Check number Amount Payee's name Date the check amount was posted to the account by the financial institution Debit or credit card Amount charged Payee's name Transaction date Electronic funds transfer Amount transferred Payee's name Date the transfer was posted to the account by the financial institution Payroll deduction Amount Payee code Transaction date Account statements: You may be able to prove payment with a legible financial account statement prepared by your bank or other financial institution. Pay statements: You may have deductible expenses withheld from your paycheck, such as union dues or medical insurance premiums. You should keep your year-end or final pay statements as proof of payment of these expenses.

THE ADVANTAGE OF GOOD RECORDS

A good set of records can help you cut your taxes. Detailed records reduce the chance that you will overlook deductible expenses when your tax return is prepared. After all, how many people remember the exact details of their expenditures months after the fact? Nothing is more frustrating than knowing you incurred deductions yet not being able to prove them. The ultimate consequence of poor recordkeeping is enforced payment of more tax than the law requires. Explicit records provide the best assurance of a favorable outcome if you are audited. Oral testimony alone is seldom enough to prove the deductions you claim on your tax return – auditors want to see a paper trail of receipts, logs, etc. When you’re missing adequate backup records, it can cost a great deal in time and effort to get duplicates. The unfortunate fact is that many businesses balk at hunting down receipts for past sales (you can’t really blame them since it raises their expenses). Your ongoing recordkeeping effort is your best remedy to counteract this problem. Good records help others who might have to handle your financial affairs in an emergency – e.g., an illness. The better your records are, the easier it could be for someone else to temporarily “step into your shoes” to handle your monetary transactions
Wink Inc. | Enrolled Agents | 2701 Troy Center Dr, Ste 255 | Troy | Michigan | 48084 | Tel: 248-816-1220 | 800-276-8319 | Text: 248-800-6013|
Wink Inc. Enrolled Agents America’s Tax Experts ®
Wink Tax Services
Record Retention Guide

How Long To Keep Tax Records

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. Table 1 contains the periods of limitations that apply to income tax returns. 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. Table 1. Period of Limitations IF you... THEN the period is... 1. Owe additional tax and (2), (3), and (4) do not apply to you 3 years 2. Do not report income that you should and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return 6 years 3. File a fraudulent return No limit 4. Do not file a return No limit 5. File a claim for credit or refund after you filed your return The later of 3 years or 2 years after tax was paid. 6. File a claim for a loss from worthless securities 7 years Property: 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 your basis for computing gain or loss when you sell or otherwise dispose of the property. Generally, if you received property in a nontaxable exchange, your basis in that property is the same as the basis of the property you gave up. You must keep the records on the old property, as well as the new property, until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the new property in a taxable disposition. Keeping records for nontax purposes: When your records are no longer needed for tax purposes, do not discard them until you check to see if they should be kept longer for other purposes. Your insurance company or creditors may require you to keep certain records longer than the IRS does.

Why Keep Records?

There are many reasons to keep records. In addition to tax purposes, you may need to keep records for insurance purposes or for getting a loan. Good records will help you: Identify sources of income. You may receive money or property from a variety of sources. Your records can identify the sources of your income. You need this information to separate business from nonbusiness income and taxable from nontaxable income. Keep track of expenses. You may forget an expense unless you record it when it occurs. You can use your records to identify expenses for which you can claim a deduction. This will help you determine if you can itemize deductions on your tax return. Keep track of the basis of property. You need to keep records that show the basis of your property. This includes the original cost or other basis of the property and any improvements you made. Prepare tax returns. You need records to prepare your tax return. Good records help you to file quickly and accurately. Support items reported on tax returns. You must keep records in case the IRS has a question about an item on your return. If the IRS examines your tax return, you may be asked to explain the items reported. Good records will help you explain any item and arrive at the correct tax with a minimum of effort. If you do not have records, you may have to spend time getting statements and receipts from various sources. If you cannot produce the correct documents, you may have to pay additional tax and be subject to penalties.

Kinds of Records To Keep

Basic records Basic records are documents that everybody should keep. These are the records that prove your income and expenses. If you own a home or investments, your basic records should contain documents related to those items. Table 2. Proof of Income and Expense FOR items concerning your... KEEP as basic records... Income Form(s) W-2 Form(s) 1099 Bank statements Brokerage statements Form(s) K-1 Expenses Sales slips Invoices Receipts Canceled checks or other proof of payment Written communications from qualified charities Home Closing statements Purchase and sales invoices Proof of payment Insurance records Receipts for improvement costs Investments Brokerage statements Mutual fund statements Form(s) 1099 Form(s) 2439

Income

Your basic records prove the amounts you report as income on your tax return. Your income may include wages, dividends, interest, and partnership or S corporation distributions. Your records also can prove that certain amounts are not taxable, such as tax-exempt interest. Note: If you receive a Form W-2, keep Copy C until you begin receiving social security benefits. This will help protect your benefits in case there is a question about your work record or earnings in a particular year. Review the information shown on your annual (for workers over age 25) Social Security Statement.

Expenses

Your basic records prove the expenses for which you claim a deduction (or credit) on your tax return. Your deductions may include alimony, charitable contributions, mortgage interest, and real estate taxes. You also may have child care expenses for which you can claim a credit.

Home

Your basic records should enable you to determine the basis or adjusted basis of your home. You need this information to determine if you have a gain or loss when you sell your home or to figure depreciation if you use part of your home for business purposes or for rent. Your records should show the purchase price, settlement or closing costs, and the cost of any improvements. They also may show any casualty losses deducted and insurance reimbursements for casualty losses. Your records also should include a copy of Form 2119, Sale of Your Home, if you sold your previous home before May 7, 1997, and postponed tax on the gain from that sale. When you sell your home, your records should show the sales price and any selling expenses, such as commissions.

Investments

Your basic records should enable you to determine your basis in an investment and whether you have a gain or loss when you sell it. Investments include stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Your records should show the purchase price, sales price, and commissions. They may also show any reinvested dividends, stock splits and dividends, load charges, and original issue discount (OID).

Proof of Payment

One of your basic records is proof of payment. You should keep these records to support certain amounts shown on your tax return. Proof of payment alone is not proof that the item claimed on your return is allowable. You also should keep other documents that will help prove that the item is allowable. Generally, you prove payment with a cash receipt, financial account statement, credit card statement, canceled check, or substitute check. If you make payments in cash, you should get a dated and signed receipt showing the amount and the reason for the payment. If you make payments by electronic funds transfer, you may be able to prove payment with an account statement. Table 3. Proof of Payment IF payment is by... THEN the statement must show the... Cash Amount Payee's name Transaction date Check Check number Amount Payee's name Date the check amount was posted to the account by the financial institution Debit or credit card Amount charged Payee's name Transaction date Electronic funds transfer Amount transferred Payee's name Date the transfer was posted to the account by the financial institution Payroll deduction Amount Payee code Transaction date Account statements: You may be able to prove payment with a legible financial account statement prepared by your bank or other financial institution. Pay statements: You may have deductible expenses withheld from your paycheck, such as union dues or medical insurance premiums. You should keep your year-end or final pay statements as proof of payment of these expenses.

THE ADVANTAGE OF GOOD RECORDS

A good set of records can help you cut your taxes. Detailed records reduce the chance that you will overlook deductible expenses when your tax return is prepared. After all, how many people remember the exact details of their expenditures months after the fact? Nothing is more frustrating than knowing you incurred deductions yet not being able to prove them. The ultimate consequence of poor recordkeeping is enforced payment of more tax than the law requires. Explicit records provide the best assurance of a favorable outcome if you are audited. Oral testimony alone is seldom enough to prove the deductions you claim on your tax return – auditors want to see a paper trail of receipts, logs, etc. When you’re missing adequate backup records, it can cost a great deal in time and effort to get duplicates. The unfortunate fact is that many businesses balk at hunting down receipts for past sales (you can’t really blame them since it raises their expenses). Your ongoing recordkeeping effort is your best remedy to counteract this problem. Good records help others who might have to handle your financial affairs in an emergency – e.g., an illness. The better your records are, the easier it could be for someone else to temporarily “step into your shoes” to handle your monetary transactions
Wink Inc. Enrolled Agents | 2701 Troy Center Dr, Ste 255 | Troy | Michigan | 48084 | Tel: 248-816-1220 | TF: 800-276-8319 | Text: 248-800-6013 |