How long should I keep my income tax returns?

Filing taxes is something many Connecticut residents dread doing. It takes time, mistakes are easy to make, and no one wants to find out how much more they may owe the government. However, most people file them anyway because the consequences of not doing so can be significant. Once income tax returns are submitted and approved by the Internal Revenue Service, one might be tempted to throw out all documentation -- who wants to carry it around, right? Doing this is not suggested, as it can cause a person a lot of problems if the IRS eventually comes knocking.

Numerous people may be unaware that the IRS has several years to audit one's tax return. For personal taxes, there is a three-year window from the date of filing that an audit can be started -- unless one is thought to be hiding income from the government, then the window expands to six years. Along with keeping tax returns, hanging on to all accompanying documentation is strongly recommended.

After the threat of an audit has passed, throwing out tax returns is completely acceptable. However, just placing these documents in the trash is not suggested. Shred them so that the information is not easily accessible to those who might try to steal one's identity for their personal gain.

No one wants to keep paper or digital files around any longer than they have to, and that is okay. Purging old data can be a good thing. However, when it comes to income tax returns, it is better to be on the safe side and hang on to them for several years before tossing them. Connecticut residents who fail to do so and end up getting audited may find themselves owing a lot more to the government if they do not have the documentation to show proof of income and eligible deductions.

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