So you’ve filed your federal income tax return and the hard work is finished. Now you can turn to these less pressing but no less important questions.
- What records should I keep?
If you reported stock or other asset sales, keep brokerage confirmations, equipment purchase invoices, mutual fund statements, and real property closing statements for a minimum of seven years.
If you itemized, retain charitable donation acknowledgments, receipts for employee business expenses, and automobile mileage logs for at least seven years.
The same seven-year rule also applies to common tax forms that verify the amount of income you received, such as Forms 1099 for interest, dividends, and capital gains, and Schedules K-1 from partnerships and S corporations. You may want to hold on to W-2s until you can verify your wages against your annual social security statement. What about those interim reports you received during the year, such as payroll stubs? Shred them once you compare the totals to the annual form.
For your tax return itself, the general rule is keep federal and state returns for a minimum of seven years.
- What if I made a mistake on my return?
You may need to file an amended return if you inadvertently failed to report income or deductions on the original return, claimed too few or too many dependents, or chose an incorrect filing status. Normally you need to file an amended return within three years of the filing date of the original return. Remember that you may also have to amend state filings, as well as prior-year federal returns affected by carryforward or carryback items.
- What if my address changes after I file?
Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to update your taxpayer account with the IRS. You also have the option of sending a signed written statement to the IRS, or calling or visiting an IRS office. Generally, the only time you can notify the IRS electronically about a new address is if your refund check was returned to the IRS. Completing a change of address notice with the post office may also update your IRS file, though you’ll still want to notify the IRS directly.