Tax Returns: How Long to Hold?

These days we are fortunate to live in a world much less reliant on paperwork. Almost everything can be found online and file cabinets are becoming bare. As much as we live in the digital era, there are still some tax papers imperative to keep on hand.

There are several important reasons to retain tax paperwork. If you are ever audited by the IRS or learn of a deduction or tax break you could have claimed, you will need those documents. The IRS has 3 years to do an audit of your taxes. However, if you understate your adjusted gross income by 25% or more, the IRS is allowed 6 years to conduct the audit. If you file an extension, the 3 years begins from when the extended return was filed. Based on this, most would recommend keeping all documentation for 6 years.

There is however, no time limit to when audits for unfiled returns or fraudulent returns can be done. Additionally, many recommending keeping your W2 forms until your Social Security begin. You can very easily find that you have to prove your earnings to the Social Security office when the time comes. Having your W2 forms as record of your earnings will be critical as proof in that case.

For any real estate and retirement accounts, the 3 year rule applies again. It is advised to keep your real estate records for as long as you own the property plus 3 years after it is sold. Likewise, retirement records should be retained for as long as you’re receiving payouts plus 3 years.

The IRS website shares their recommendations on the topic as well. They recommend that you should keep your records until the period of limitations, or the time in which you can amend your return, runs out. For more information from the IRS directly,

So what really is the safest bet? Keep everything for at least 6 years and in the case of real estate and retirement accounts for 3 years after the gain is realized. After 6 years the choice is yours. If you believe your tax returns to be clean, it should be fine to keep just the return itself and the W2s. But as many experts debate, how much room do those files really take up? Save yourself a future headache and save those files…..forever.

Taxes 101

To quote the great Benjamin Franklin, “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  Taxes can be confusing and frustrating but, have you ever stopped to wonder when the taxes we pay originated and where the money goes?  Taxes in the form of tariffs on imports have a long history in the USA, dating back to the 1760’s.  Taxes as we know them however are more recent with the 16th amendment to the constitution. This was ratified in 1913 and legally allowed for income taxes.  Not long after, in 1930, sales taxes were introduced. Since then, more taxes have been introduced along with more legislature and complexities surrounding them.  

Taxes generally consist of money paid by individuals or businesses to help the government fund schools, libraries, armed forces, roads, bridges, police, and other public services.

  • Approximately 7.65% of your wages go to the government before you even see your paycheck in the form of a Payroll Tax.  These payroll taxes fund Social Security, healthcare, and unemployment.  
  • Property Taxes are paid annually for the land you own and real estate. This money goes to your local public services such as schools, roads, sanitation, etc.
  • Sales Tax impacts the greatest number of consumers as it is levied on goods and sometimes services purchased.  45 states have a sales tax and each state is responsible for the laws of their own state tax. The rates average between 4 – 7%.  These taxes are found on goods and sometimes services offered and are used to pay for state roads and other public safety measures.
  • Income Taxes are the dollars paid by employees based on earnings at the federal, state, and local level.  There are 7 states who do not charge a state income tax. Businesses pay income taxes as well as individuals on the income they earn.  Deductions are available to both individuals and businesses to lessen the amount of income that they pay on taxes. Additionally, not all income that you may receive (such as child support payments) is taxable.  This money is to be used by the government for activities that serve the public. Present day, income taxes account for nearly half of the government’s revenue.


The percentage of income that the government makes from taxes has gone up exponentially over the past 100 years, both in terms of an increased percent of taxable income and increase in the number of taxes levied.  These taxes are a source of controversy for many business owners and tax payers. The better we educate ourselves about what we are paying and why, the more informed we can be at tax time to make good decisions. Knowing what deductions are available to you and what the specific laws of your state require can help.  Our office is always available to help answer questions!!

Nicole Hagen

One of the most challenging parts to a healthier lifestyle is making positive changes and then sticking with them weeks and months down the road.  This is where Nutrition Coaching with Nicole has been found to excel. In an effort to help clients get the best results that last for the rest of their lives, Nicole Hagen encourages sustainable habit-based strategies as opposed to the deprivation-based mindset of dieting. With guidance and accountability from an educated and experienced nutrition coach using sustainable, easy-to-begin habit-based coaching, Nicole believes anyone can create healthy, positive change that lasts a lifetime.

As a certified nutrition coach, Nicole helps people change their bodies and their lives with guided nutrition coaching geared specifically to their individual goals, lifestyle, and preferences.  Through her nutrition coaching process clients will learn the best eating, exercise (optional), and lifestyle strategies — unique and personal — for their body. And because she recognizes that we live in a fast-paced world, Nicole offers both in-person and remote nutrition coaching packages. So even those who live at a distance or who can’t get away for a face-to-face consultation can stay consistent and see results, no matter what life brings.

The majority of her clientele have fat loss goals, whether it’s 10, 50 or 100 pounds. She also does a lot of work with disordered eating and sport-specific clientele. So whether you feel like your body is working against you and just can’t seem to lose weight, or you’re looking for a way to enhance your fitness performance, Nicole is here to help guide the way.

Nicole utilizes an online nutrition coaching portal with her clients. This service allows for daily accountability, so nutrition and fitness goals remain a priority amidst the everyday life distractions! You can learn more at her website or Facebook/Instagram pages, where she posts daily Nutrition Tips of the Day. Nicole is also on instagram at  If you need any additional information, Nicole is happy to help via email at!

Sandra Kilpatrick Jordan

Our local business spotlight is always proud to share the many talents and expertise of our local area from  Himalayan tours to candle makers. Today we are incredibly excited to introduce Sandra Kilpatrick Jordan. Sandra worked at Sesame Workshop for 12 years as an executive producer of non-broadcast educational programs.  She spent 2 years as a federal grant maker at the National Girl Scouts of the USA which she describes as an amazing experience! Sandra followed this with another 8 years in public affairs and government relations for the international trade association for the music products industry (NAMM) and grant maker for their foundation.

 This employment resume is incredibly impressive in itself, but the work that Sandra does for these organizations is even more exciting.  An independent consultant since 2010, she works with business and nonprofit clients in various parts of the U.S. and overseas. Sandra describes her work as strategic planning and communications, along with program and partner development in education and the arts. She has been labeled a “trim tab” by one of her mentors, a definition she agrees with for herself and her work.  This term is primarily used to describe a small part on boats that gives better control and improved performance with just minor adjustments. Sandra fits this description by recognizing the future implications of small, high-leverage actions that can help to guide an organization in a right, new direction. She helps busy business and nonprofit leaders accelerate their social impact by

  • supporting them to plan, brand and communicate more effectively
  • producing new collateral materials
  • developing partnerships and programs


Sandra brings a wealth of bold and innovative services to organizations including writing strategic plans and annual reports, introducing new products or services, crafting new content for any medium, and spearheading or re-evaluating an education, public affairs or community outreach program.  This list does not exhaust her capabilities and Sandra’s customer testimonials and completed projects speak volumes to the work that she does and the quality she brings.

To see a complete list of the programs and projects she has been involved with, her website includes testimonials from many.—Products.html

If you are ready to take your organization in a new and innovative direction, Sandra is ready to help!  She is based locally in Lancaster at the Candy Factory and can be reached by email at