What to Do With Your Tax Records after Filing

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Now that you have filed your tax return and are ready to close the books on 2013, what do you do with all the leftover paperwork? What information should you save, how should you save it, and for what length of time? Use these tips for easy organization and peace of mind.

What information do I need to keep?

Generally, you should keep a copy of your return and all related documents. That includes any record of income (W-2s, 1099s, K-1s), expenses, property value, and deductions (mortgage interest statements and receipts for medical expenses and charitable donations).

Having a copy of this year's return will come in handy at tax time next year. You'll need information from this year's return in order to e-file next year; plus, you'll be able to easily compare returns to help make sure you didn't forget something.

How long do I need to keep these records?

The IRS recommends saving all tax information for at least three years after the date you filed your return. The IRS generally has three years to audit tax returns (state agencies have four years), but has six years if they suspect you've underreported income by at least 25 percent. In the unlikely event of an audit, having written documentation can help settle any disputes easily and quickly.

Is it better to save paper or electronic copies?

Saving paper or electronic copies – or both – comes down to personal preference. Both types can be saved in multiple locations.

Paper copies are advantageous if your computer becomes corrupted. Digital copies can be saved on your computer, external drive, CD or secure website, which may be safer from natural disasters.

TaxAct recommends saving both printed and digital copies (as a PDF) of returns.

What if I forgot to print or save my TaxAct Online return?

Current year TaxAct Online returns can be accessed through October 31, allowing you to print, save, or edit your return at any time.

After October 31, the IRS will charge you $50 for a copy of a previous year return. TaxAct Online customers can continue accessing returns for up to three more years by purchasing TaxAct's Data Archive Service (DAS) for a small fee.

Whether you choose a filing cabinet or secure website, choose one recordkeeping method and stick with it.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

January 1 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (New Year's Day) Details

January 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during December, report them to your employer Details

January 15 — Individuals
Make a payment of your estimated tax for 2018 if you did not pay your income tax for the year through withholding (or did not pay in enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES Details

January 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in December 2018

January 15 — Farmers & fishermen
Pay your estimated tax for 2018 using Form 1040-ES Details

January 21 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) Details

January 31 — All Employers
Give your employees their copies of Form W2 for 2018. If an employee agreed to receive Form W2 electronically, have it posted on a website and notify the employee of the posting.

January 31 — Individuals who must make estimated tax payments
If you did not pay your last installment of estimated tax by January 15, you may choose (but are not required) to file your income tax return (Form 1040) for 2017 by January 31. Filing your return and paying any tax due by January 31 prevents any penalty for late payment of the last installment. If you cannot file and pay your tax by January 31, file and pay your tax by April 15.

January 31 — Payers of gambling winnings
If you either paid reportable gambling winnings or withheld income tax from gambling winnings, give the winners their copies of Form W2G.

January 31 — Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2018. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full, you have until 02-10 to file the return.

January 31 — Certain small employers
File Form 944 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2018. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is $2,500 or more for 2018 but less than $2,500 for the fourth quarter, deposit any undeposited tax or pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — Farm employers
File Form 943 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2018. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — Federal unemployment tax
File Form 940 for 2018. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it is more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — All businesses
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2018 Details

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