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Tax Files: Which Ones to Throw Out, Which Ones to Keep

May 7, 2016

tax formsNow that the April tax deadline has passed, you can throw away a slew of documents. But not all of them.

The IRS generally has three years after the tax-filing deadline to initiate an audit, so you should keep your returns and supporting documents at least for tax years 2013 through 2015. But most tax experts recommend keeping them even longer. States may look back more than three years; Wisconsin, for example, has up to four years after the tax-filing deadline to initiate an audit. Trish Evenstad, an enrolled agent in Westby, Wis., who is authorized to represent taxpayers in front of the IRS, generally recommends keeping the supporting documents for at least five years, or longer if you own a business. The IRS has up to six years to audit anyone who neglects to report more than 25% of his or her income.

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