skip navigation

Search Help
Navigation Help

Topic Index

Tax Topics

About Tax Map Website
Publication 17

What Happens After  
I File?(p16)

After you send your return to the IRS, you may have some questions. This section discusses concerns you may have about recordkeeping, your refund, and what to do if you move.

What Records Should  
I Keep?(p16)

Where Refund
You must keep records so that you can prepare a complete and accurate income tax return. The law does not require any special form of records. However, you should keep all receipts, canceled checks or other proof of payment, and any other records to support any deductions or credits you claim.
If you file a claim for refund, you must be able to prove by your records that you have overpaid your tax.

How long to keep records.(p16)

You must keep your records for as long as they are important for the federal tax law.
Keep records that support an item of income or a deduction appearing on a return until the period of limitations for the return runs out. (A period of limitations is the period of time after which no legal action can be brought.) For assessment of tax you owe, this generally is 3 years from the date you filed the return. For filing a claim for credit or refund, this generally is 3 years from the date you filed the original return, or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. Returns filed before the due date are treated as filed on the due date.
If you did not report income that you should have reported on your return, and it is more than 25% of the income shown on the return, the period of limitations does not run out until 6 years after you filed the return. If a return is false or fraudulent with intent to evade tax, or if no return is filed, an action can generally be brought at any time.
You may need to keep records relating to the basis of property longer than the period of limitations. Keep those records as long as they are important in figuring the basis of the original or replacement property. Generally, this means for as long as you own the property and, after you dispose of it, for the period of limitations that applies to you. See chapter 13 for information on basis.
Note. If you receive a Form W-2, keep Copy C until you begin receiving social security benefits. This will help protect your benefits in case there is a question about your work record or earnings in a particular year. Review the information shown on your annual (for workers over age 25) Social Security Statement.

Copies of returns.(p16)

You should keep copies of tax returns you have filed and the tax forms package as part of your records. They may be helpful in amending filed returns or preparing future ones.
If you need a copy of a prior year tax return, you can get it from the IRS. Use Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. There is a charge for a copy of a return, which you must pay with Form 4506. It may take up to 60 calendar days to process your request.
If your main home, principal place of business, or tax records are located in a federally declared disaster area, the charge will be waived.

Transcript of tax return.(p16)

If you just need information from your return, you can quickly request transcripts by using our automated self-service tools. Visit us at and click on "Order a Transcript" or call 1-800-908-9946. You can also use Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, or Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Transcript of Tax Return. There is no fee for a transcript.

More information.(p16)

For more information on recordkeeping, see Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals.

Refund Information(p16)

You can go online to check the status of your 2010 refund 72 hours after IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after you mail a paper return. If you filed Form 8379 with your return, allow 14 weeks (11 weeks if you filed electronically) before checking your refund status. Be sure to have a copy of your 2010 tax return available because you will need to know the filing status, the first SSN shown on the return, and the exact whole-dollar amount of the refund. To check on your refund, do one of the following.

Interest on Refunds(p16)

If you are due a refund, you may get interest on it. The interest rates are adjusted quarterly.
If the refund is made within 45 days after the due date of your return, no interest will be paid. If you file your return after the due date (including extensions), no interest will be paid if the refund is made within 45 days after the date you filed. If the refund is not made within this 45-day period, interest will be paid from the due date of the return or from the date you filed, whichever is later.
Accepting a refund check does not change your right to claim an additional refund and interest. File your claim within the period of time that applies. See Amended Returns and Claims for Refund, later. If you do not accept a refund check, no more interest will be paid on the overpayment included in the check.

Interest on erroneous refund.(p16)

All or part of any interest you were charged on an erroneous refund generally will be forgiven. Any interest charged for the period before demand for repayment was made will be forgiven unless:
  1. You, or a person related to you, caused the erroneous refund in any way, or
  2. The refund is more than $50,000.
For example, if you claimed a refund of $100 on your return, but the IRS made an error and sent you $1,000, you would not be charged interest for the time you held the $900 difference. You must, however, repay the $900 when the IRS asks.

Change of Address(p16)

If you have moved, file your return using your new address.
If you move after you filed your return, you should give the IRS clear and concise notification of your change of address. The notification may be written, electronic, or oral. Send written notification to the Internal Revenue Service Center serving your old address. You can use Form 8822, Change of Address. If you are expecting a refund, also notify the post office serving your old address. This will help in forwarding your check to your new address (unless you chose direct deposit of your refund). For more information, see Revenue Procedure 2010-16, 2010-19 I.R.B. 664, available at
Be sure to include your SSN (and the name and SSN of your spouse, if you filed a joint return) in any correspondence with the IRS.