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Your business records and your personal financial records must be retained for as long as they may be relevant for any tax purpose.
Generally, you will need to keep all records that support items on your tax return for at least four years, since the IRS may challenge your return for up to three years after its due date. If the IRS suspects fraud, it can challenge even older returns.
Records for capital assets, such as real estate, business equipment, and investments, should be maintained as long as you own the assets, since you will need them in order to determine your taxable gain or loss upon sale of the asset, and you may need them to support depreciation or casualty loss deductions along the way. If you rolled over gain in the asset, as was permitted under the old rollover replacement rule for personal residences, or because you traded some business or investment property in a tax-free exchange, you should keep records of the original asset until you dispose of the asset that took its place.
Also, be sure to keep copies of your income tax return itself. If you have ever made any nondeductible IRA contributions, you must retain the Forms 8606 from each year you made a contribution or received a distribution from any IRAs. But more generally, if your return is ever challenged for something serious such as fraud or not filing a tax return, the IRS can go back in time to examine your returns for as many years as it thinks necessary. The problem is that the IRS computer system might not have accessible copies of your returns from, say, 10 or 15 years ago. Therefore it is very important that you keep copies of your own tax records indefinitely, and preferably forever.