How Long Does The Government Keep Tax Records?

Paper Copies of Tax Records

Once a tax return is filed, the government keeps a paper copy of the return for seven years. After seven years, by law, the government destroys these paper copies. To access paper copies of old tax returns you need to file Form 4506. There is a $57 fee for each return requested. You may request up to eight returns on each copy of Form 4506. If more returns are needed, you will need to complete additional copies of Form 4506. You should receive copies of your requested returns within 60 calendar days.

Transcripts of Tax Records

If a paper copy of your return is not necessary, a transcript may work. Transcripts of previous tax returns are provided free by the government. They are available for the current year plus the prior three years. A tax return transcript will include most line items from your return as well as any forms and schedules included with your return for that year. Besides being free, transcripts are quicker. You should receive copies of transcripts within ten days of the time the government receives your request. If the tax return needed was changed or amended, a “Tax Account Transcript”, which shows basic information plus any changes that were made, is also available.

How Long Should You Keep Your Own Tax Records?

The government advises taxpayers to keep tax records until the expiration of the time you could amend a return to claim a credit or refund or the time the government could charge you with additional tax. This time frame is called the period of limitation, and it varies based on the item and your tax situation. Additional details are available through the government.

Related posts:

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  2. How Long Will Government Pursue Tax Liens?
  3. Why Does Government Tax Relief Take So Long?
  4. Why Does Government Tax Relief Take So Long?
  5. Why Did My Government Tax Return Get Selected For An Audit?

2 Responses to “How Long Does The Government Keep Tax Records?”

  1. William LeGro says:

    Social Security says it has no record of my working in 1985, so it’s not including that year in calculating my benefit allowance. But I did work that year and paid taxes, but I don’t have the returns anymore. The IRS says it doesn’t keep returns older than 7 years, but don’t they have it somewhere in microfiche or computer? I could use the extra money. Thanks.

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