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So you’ve filed your taxes like a pro with! Now what? Do you need to download a copy of your return? If so, how long should you keep your tax records? When to toss it? We always advise downloading a copy of your return and storing it with your supporting documents. The general rule is to keep them for 3 years. But how long you’ll need to keep your tax documents depends on a few different factors and your personal situation.

Store your pay stubs for 1 year

Everybody loves a chance to crumple up a piece of paper and shoot that (imaginary) 3-pointer into the trash basket! But when it comes to your paystubs, don’t just toss them once you cash your check.  Save them until you can match the information to your W-2.  Once you’ve verified that the totals are correct, then you can let them go. Aim…shoot…and score!

Keep your tax return for at least 3 years

It’s better to be safe than sorry. So as a general rule, it’s important to keep a copy of your tax return and supporting documents for at least three years after you’ve filed.  Generally, if the IRS has questions about your return or need to assess additional taxes, they’ll do it within this time frame. It’s also the period in which you can amend your return to claim a credit or deduction you may have missed the first time around.  Save anything that can verify your income, credits, or deductions.  For example, your W-2 or 1099, tuition payments and charitable donation receipts.

6 years if you didn’t report all your income

Before you fire up that shredder, understand that the three-year rule doesn’t apply to everyone.  If you omitted more than 25% of your gross income on your tax return, the IRS has six years to perform an audit.  So, hold on to your records until the window closes.

7 years or more

If you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction, the IRS recommends keeping your tax records for at least seven years. If you don’t file taxes at all or filed a fraudulent return, the IRS can hunt you down indefinitely. You may also wish to keep your return for longer than 7 years and that’s ok! Don’t worry about letting a stack of old documents pile up, instead save your records in the cloud or other remote storage. It’s smart to keep your records electronically thanks to good ol’ technology!

You can access and download a copy of your tax records for previous returns filed with us at!

Still need to do your taxes?