This publication discusses why you should keep records, what kinds of records you should keep, and how long you should keep them.
You probably already keep records in your daily routine. This includes keeping receipts for purchases and recording information in your checkbook. Use this publication to determine if you need to keep additional information in your records.
Throughout this publication we refer you to other IRS publications for additional information. See How To Get Tax Help in the back of this publication for information about getting publications and forms.
This publication does not discuss the records you should keep when operating a business. For information on business records, see Publication 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records.taxmap/pubs/p552-000.htm#en_us_publink10008572
We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can write to us at the following address:
Internal Revenue Service
Individual Forms and Publications Branch
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224
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to download forms and publications, call 1-800-829-3676, or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.
Internal Revenue Service
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613
If you have a tax question, check the information available on www.irs.gov
or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.
There are many reasons to keep records. In addition to tax purposes, you may need to keep records for insurance purposes or for getting a loan. Good records will help you:
- Identify sources of income. You may receive money or property from a variety of sources. Your records can identify the sources of your income. You need this information to separate business from nonbusiness income and taxable from nontaxable income.
- Keep track of expenses. You may forget an expense unless you record it when it occurs. You can use your records to identify expenses for which you can claim a deduction. This will help you determine if you can itemize deductions on your tax return.
- Keep track of the basis of property. You need to keep records that show the basis of your property. This includes the original cost or other basis of the property and any improvements you made.
- Prepare tax returns. You need records to prepare your tax return. Good records help you to file quickly and accurately.
- Support items reported on tax returns. You must keep records in case the IRS has a question about an item on your return. If the IRS examines your tax return, you may be asked to explain the items reported. Good records will help you explain any item and arrive at the correct tax with a minimum of effort. If you do not have records, you may have to spend time getting statements and receipts from various sources. If you cannot produce the correct documents, you may have to pay additional tax and be subject to penalties.