By  Mon Feb 17, 2014

Which Tax Documents and Receipts Should You Keep?

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Despite a short delay, you can now file your taxes. Before you figure out where to file, you should know which receipts and documents to keep and use for tax purposes, and for how long.

Just because you filed does not mean you are completely in the clear. To prevent complications from arising, you should keep your receipts and documents for at least a few years. In the event of an audit, you need to be able to provide proof of all deductions, which means keeping your receipts is important.

Work-related expenses

You can deduct items related to work that you were not otherwise reimbursed for. If you spent money on tools, supplies, or anything else is associated with your job, you should keep those receipts to claim a deduction on your taxes. As long as you can justify that the items you spent money on were used for work, then you should have no problem making a deduction when you file. Visit IRS.gov to see the complete list of what you can deduct.

Some employers require employees to brush up on their skills by enrolling in courses related to their job, or that employees expand their skills by taking new courses. Anyone that was required to enroll in a class for work can claim this expense on their taxes as well. Books, supplies, and the commute can all fall under deductions.

Traveling for a business related trip counts as something that can be claimed as a deduction. It is recommended to hold on to food, hotel, and gas receipts so that you can have a precise estimate of travel expenses for the year.

Expenses for children

For 2013, you can claim up to $3,900 for each child that qualifies as your dependent. Save receipts for expenses such as clothing, books, and tuition. Some tax payers don’t realize that money spent on daycare, a babysitter, or after school programs can be deducted as well. Keep all of the receipts you used to support your child to have an account for how much you spent all throughout the year, that way there is never a discrepancy when you file.

Medical expenses

Remember, you can claim medical expenses on your taxes. Medical, dental, vision, and long-term care premiums can all count as deductions for your taxes. You can also deduct co-pays for medical, vision, and dental care, as well as glasses, contact lenses, or prescription medications.

If you made an effort to improve your health, there are also expenses you can deduct. For instance, a person classified as obese can deduct money spent on a weight loss program. Or, a smoker can deduct the cost of a program that aids in quitting. Refer to the medical and dental expenses section of the IRS website to learn exactly what falls under a deduction that can be made.

Charity donations

All charitable donations should be recorded each time you decide to make a contribution. When you donate a fixed dollar amount you should get back some type of receipt to have proof of your donation. You should also get a receipt if you choose to donate items such as clothes, toys, or a vehicle. Keep records of all your donations and do not forget to claim them on your taxes, even if it was not a direct dollar amount.

How long to store receipts and tax documents

The IRS recommends that people hold on to their receipts and tax documents for at least three years. This is important, and luckily it is easier than ever to keep this type of paperwork. If you file online you can keep a digital copy of your tax return on your computer, or through the service you used to file your taxes.

You can also scan or take pictures of your receipts and other person information, that way you do not have to clutter your home with a lot of unnecessary paperwork.

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