April 15 has come and gone and another year of tax forms and shoeboxes full
of receipts is behind us. But what should be done with those documents after
your check or refund request is in the mail?
Federal law requires you to maintain copies of your tax returns and supporting
documents for three years. This is called the "three-year law" and
leads many people to believe they're safe provided they retain their documents
for this period of time.
However, if the IRS believes you have significantly underreported your income
(by 25 percent or more), or believes there may be indication of fraud, it may
go back six years in an audit. To be safe, use the following guidelines.