Identity theft is a serious threat in today’s world, and it is important to take every precaution to avoid it. After it is no longer necessary to retain your tax records, financial statements, or any other documents with your personal information, you should dispose of these records by shredding them and not disposing of them by merely throwing them away in the trash.
WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T THROW IT OUT
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. Even if the original records are provided only on paper, they can be scanned and converted to a digital format. Once the documents are in electronic form, taxpayers can download them to a backup storage device, such as an external hard drive, or burn them onto a CD or DVD (don’t forget to label it).
Create a Backup Set of Records and Store Them Electronically.
Keeping a backup set of records — including, for example, bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, etc. — is easier than ever now that many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically, and much financial information is available on the Internet. You might also consider online backup, which is the only way to ensure that data is fully protected. With online backup, files are stored in another region of the country, so that if a hurricane or other natural disaster occurs, documents remain safe.
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 below.
W2 - wages, salary, and taxes withheld
W2G - Gambling winnings
1099B - Income from stock sales
1099 div - Dividends and other bank distributions
1099 G - unemployment benefits and other state or local payments like tax refunds
1099 INT - Interest or savings
1099 K - Income from online payment services
1099 S - for income from the sale of your residence or other property
1099 MISC - Miscellaneous income
1099 NEC - Non-employee compensation
1099 R - Retirement income
SSA 1099 - Social Security benefits
1095 A - Health insurance marketplace statement
1098 - Mortgage interest statement
1098 C - Contributions of cars, boats, or planes
1098 E - Student loan interest
1098 T - Tuition and related educational expenses
5498 SA - Health savings account contributions
Records of any transactions involving cryptocurrency
Real estate taxes
Out-of-pocket medical expenses
Premiums paid for long-term care insurance
Estimated tax payments made during the year to the IRS and state and local tax authorities
And if you're itemizing deductions, you'll need information such as receipts, paid bills, and invoices to claim some deductions, including:
- Charitable donations
- Child care costs
- Expenses for educators
- Medical and dental expenses
- Retirement contributions
- Work expenses if you are self-employed
Your personal information tells the IRS and state taxing authority who’s filing a return, where to contact you, and deposit your tax refund.
- Your name exactly as it appears on your Social Security card
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Home address
- Copy of last year’s federal and state tax returns
- Bank account number and routing number to receive your refund by direct deposit
If you can claim someone else as a dependent, you’ll need the following information.
- Dependents’ name (as it appears on their Social Security card), dates of birth, and Social Security numbers (or tax ID numbers)
- Form 8332 if your dependent child’s custodial parent is releasing their right to claim the child as a dependent
If you’re self-employed, you need to report that income. You can also claim business expenses to lower your taxable income.
1099 NEC or 1099 K - showing income earned as an independent contractor
Records of all business income and expenses
Documentation for home office expenses, including square footage of home and square footage of area used exclusively for business
Records for business assets to be depreciated, including cost and date placed in service
Miles traveled for business purposes