Taxpayers struggle and stress about their income tax returns every year. When the return has finally been filed and the taxes paid or the refund spent, it gets put away. But where does it go? That all depends upon how organized you are in keeping tax records.
Tax records, such as returns, can still be of vital importance even after they have been dutifully filed with the Internal Revenue Service. For this reason, it is important that you keep track of your income tax records and returns.
You might wonder what possible reason you would have to dig out a return a number of years after it has been filled out and filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The obvious, and most distressing, reason you might have to find that old tax return is because you are facing an Internal Revenue Service Tax audit. Because of the possibility of such a circumstance, it is recommended that you retain tax records and income tax returns for a period of at least six years.
There are other, less distressing, reasons that you might want to find an old income tax return. Perhaps, you are engaging the services of a new financial consultant, tax attorney, or accountant and he or she has requested a look at your old tax records. Maybe you are taking out a loan to buy a car, a house, a boat, or some other item for which you want to prove your income over a certain number of years. It could be that you want to show your profit and loss statistics to open a credit account for your business. There are, indeed, many scenarios under which you might find yourself in need of past income tax returns.
Now that I have you running around the house or office, wondering what exactly it was you did with those old tax records, it is time to tell you about the worst part of losing an old income tax return. The worst thing about losing that return is that all of your private information is on there. Mostly, you want to be sure that the return didn’t fall into hands where that information could be damaging to you. An old income tax return is pure gold for someone seeking to steal an identity.
As far as not being able to find an income tax return that you need for any of the reasons we discussed, don’t worry about it. The IRS keeps copies of all filed returns and you can request yours for a small fee and a wait of about two months for it to come in the mail.