Once Massachusetts residents file their tax returns, they may immediately put them out of their minds. Who can blame them? No one wants to pay taxes, and any dealing with the IRS can cause anxiety. While it is possible to move on and forget about taxes until the following year, records should still be kept -- just in case.
Taxpayers here in Massachusetts and across the country may put taxes out of their minds after they file them, but the IRS may not. Depending on the circumstances, the agency could come back to you years after filing and ask questions, initiate an audit or claim you made an error. It would be in every taxpayer's best interests to retain the records and returns for each tax year for a number of years.
How long do they need to lug around this paperwork? The simple answer is at least seven years. In some instances, they need to be kept longer. The IRS actually recommends that some taxpayers keep their returns indefinitely.
The problem is that it is not only the return that is needed, but the paperwork used to prepare it as well. That could end up being a lot of paper for some people. For those who wonder whether they are at risk for needing older tax returns, it might help to seek out some experienced assistance in reviewing the situation for a particular tax year to assess whether the IRS could take an interest in documentation from that particular time. A tax attorney who assists people with tax controversies such as audits, allegations of fraud and more could prove invaluable in this endeavor.