When can I toss my tax records?

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Question:

My file cabinet is bursting at its seams because I have receipts and records from the last ten years! I need to toss all old records but the essentials. How long are you required to maintain personal records in the event of an audit? I was told three years. Is this correct?

Answer:

Most people find it annoying to hang onto reams of paper over the years in case of an audit or tax question. But there is something frightening about throwing these old records away.

What to do? Three years is the minimum period of time to hold records after you file a tax return. Six years is even better because, in certain cases, the IRS has that long to audit you.

And, for some types of records -- primarily long-held assets like real estate or stocks -- the records should be kept from the date of acquisition until three or six years after the date of disposition of the item, which could mean a decade or longer.

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