You must keep records as proof of any deduction claimed on your tax return. Generally, you should keep your records for 3 years from the date of filing the tax return and claiming the deduction.
If you are an employee who is reimbursed for expenses and you give your records and documentation to your employer, you do not have to keep duplicate copies of this information. However, you should keep your records for a 3-year period if:
- You claim deductions for expenses that are more than your reimbursement,
- Your employer does not use adequate accounting procedures to verify expense accounts,
- You are related to your employer, or
- Your expenses are reimbursed under a nonaccountable plan.
If any of the above cases apply to you, you must be able to prove that your expenses are deductible. You should keep adequate records or have sufficient evidence that will support your expenses. Estimates or approximations do not qualify as proof of an expense. Some examples of what can be used to help prove your expenses are:
- Documents, such as transcripts, course descriptions, catalogs, etc., showing periods of enrollment in educational institutions, principal subjects studied, and descriptions of educational activity.
- Canceled checks and receipts to verify amounts you spent for:
- Tuition and books,
- Meals and lodging while away from home overnight for educational purposes,
- Travel and transportation, and
- Other education expenses.
- Statements from your employer explaining whether the education was necessary for you to keep your job, salary, or status; how the education helped maintain or improve skills needed in your job; how much reimbursement you received; and, if you are a teacher, the type of certificate and subjects taught.
- Complete information about any scholarship or fellowship grants, including amounts you received during the year.