3 Common Questions After You File Your Tax Return

Even after your 2020 tax return has been successfully filed with the IRS, you may still have some questions about the return. Here are answers to three common questions:

1. When will I receive my refund?

tax refundsThe IRS has an online tool that can tell you the status of your refund. Go to irs.gov and click on “Get Your Refund Status.” You’ll need your Social Security number, filing status and the exact refund amount.

2. Which tax records can I throw away now?

At a minimum, keep tax records related to your return for as long as the IRS can audit your return or assess additional taxes. In general, the statute of limitations is three years after you file your return, which means you can get rid of most records related to tax returns for 2017 and earlier years. Unless you filed an extension for your 2017 return; then you should hold on to your records until at least three years from when you filed the extended return.

Be aware, the statute of limitations extends to six years for taxpayers who understate their gross income by more than 25%.

There are certain tax-related records you should hang on to for a longer period of time. For example, keep the actual tax returns indefinitely, so you can prove to the IRS that you filed legitimate returns. There’s no statute of limitations for an audit if you didn’t file a return or you filed a fraudulent one.

In addition, keep records associated with retirement accounts until you’ve depleted the account and reported the last withdrawal on your tax return, plus three (or six) years. Records related to real estate or investments should be retained for as long as you own the asset, plus at least three years after you sell it and report the sale on your tax return. You can keep these records for six years if you want to be extra safe.

3. If I overlooked claiming a tax break, can I still collect a refund for it?

In general, you can file an amended tax return and claim a refund within three years after the date you filed your original return or within two years of the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.

There are a few opportunities when you have longer to file an amended return, though. For instance, the statute of limitations for bad debts is longer than the usual three-year time limit for most items on your tax return. You can amend your tax return to claim a bad debt for seven years from the due date of the tax return for the year that the debt became worthless.

Year-round tax help

Contact us if you have questions about retaining tax records, receiving your refund, or filing an amended return.

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