The Internal Revenue Service claims to have lost critical emails of seven officials suspected of targeting conservative groups. The IRS’ excuses — hard drive crash, recycled backup tapes — are not very plausible. The agency uses Microsoft Exchange for its email system, which is server-based. That means that users do not typically store their emails on their local computers. Emails are stored on servers and accessed via password-protected accounts.
The IRS is unlikely to relent on Americans who “lose” our financial records. According to its own website, the IRS says American taxpayers would be wise to retain our records for several years.
Note: Keep copies of your filed tax returns. They help in preparing future tax returns and making computations if you file an amended return.
- You owe additional tax and situations (2), (3), and (4), below, do not apply to you; keep records for 3 years.
- You do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return; keep records for 6 years.
- You file a fraudulent return; keep records indefinitely.
- You do not file a return; keep records indefinitely.
- You file a claim for credit or refund* after you file your return; keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
- You file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction; keep records for 7 years.
- Keep all employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
If the IRS adhered to its own policy, those “lost” emails wouldn’t be lost at all.
It’s a safe bet that if you lose financial records that become of interest to IRS, no excuses for not having them will be accepted.