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Storing tax records, how long is long enough?

Federal law requires you to maintain copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for three years. This is called the "three-year law" and leads many people to believe they're safe provided they retain their documents for this period of time.


However, if the IRS believes you have significantly underreported your income (by 25 percent or more), or believes there may be indication of fraud, it may go back six years in an audit. To be safe, use the following guidelines.



IRS Forms

Rather than forcing you to search the Internet, here are some of the most commonly used IRS forms for small business.

These forms require Adobe PDF Reader. If you do not have it, you may download it here.

  • Form W-4   Use this form to determine employee's federal income tax withholding.

  • Form I-9   All employees must complete this form at time of hire for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

  • Form  W-9    Use this form for an individual or entity who is required to file an information return with the IRS and must obtain your correct taxpayer identification number. Also, you may need to receive the W-9 from independent contractors that provide services to your company. 

For more tax forms and instructions for small businesses and
self-employed you can check this page on

If you do want to search the entire IRS Library, click here.

IRS Online Learning &
Educational Products

  • IRS Video Portal  

    The IRS Video portal contains video and audio presentations on topics of interest to small businesses, individuals and tax professionals. You will find video clips of tax topics, and archived versions of live panel discussions and webinars

  • Tax Scams - How to Report Them 

    Participating in an illegal scheme to avoid paying taxes can result in imprisonment and fines, as well as the repayment of taxes owed with penalties and interest. Education is the best way to avoid the pitfalls of these “too good to be true” tax scams.

  • SBA Learning Center

    Find self-paced online training courses, quick videos, Web chats and more to help you learn about the many aspects of business ownership. You can also sort your selections by content type and topic.

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