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Merlo, Accountant
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 9783
Experience:  25+ years tax consulting. Specializing in returns for US citizens living abroad
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How many years do you have to retain old federal income tax

Customer Question

How many years do you have to retain old federal income tax returns? We are trying to clean out old files in preparation to relocate and would like to destroy as many previous year returns as possible.

Thank you.

Art Hartman
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Merlo replied 7 years ago.
Hello tennis,

It is recommended that you retain your tax records for 7 years.

By law, the IRS must destroy all tax records that are 7 years old. The IRS is also limited by law to the number of years they can go back to audit a return. In most cases, the furthest they can go back is 3 years. In cases where you have under-reported your income by more than 25%, they can go back 6 years. So keeping records for 7 years will more than cover you in the event you would ever be audited and need these records.

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Thank you.