IRS To Public: You Need To Hold Onto Your Records For 2-7 Years; We'll Just Trash Ours Whenever We Feel Like It
from the hire-an-accountant-and-marvel-at-our-lack-of-accountability dept
How long should I keep my records?Source: IRS
Note: Keep copies of your filed tax returns. They help in preparing future tax returns and making computations if you file an amended return.
- You owe additional tax and situations (2), (3), and (4), below, do not apply to you; keep records for 3 years.
- You do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return; keep records for 6 years.
- You file a fraudulent return; keep records indefinitely.
- You do not file a return; keep records indefinitely.
- You file a claim for credit or refund* after you file your return; keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
- You file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction; keep records for 7 years.
Keep all employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
How long should the IRS hold onto emails that are considered part of public records?
Answer: until the hard drive is recycled.
Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner's crashed hard drive has been recycled, making it likely the lost emails of the lightening rod in the tea party targeting controversy will never be found, according to multiple sources.Citizens, the burden of proof lies on you when the IRS starts asking questions. You retain these records or bear the consequences. When the IRS loses two years of email, it simply rehashes what happens, shrugs its shoulders and waits for the NSA's Glomar on Lois Lerner's email metadata.
"We've been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away," Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said in a brief hallway interview.
On one hand, at the point it was thrown away, those currently being investigated by Congress probably had no idea the emails contained would be requested two years later. On the other hand, the agency has the specific duty to retain this information to remain in compliance with federal public records regulations. Scrapping a hard drive doesn't sound like the move of an agency interested in maintaining public records.
Lerner's crashed hard drive was subpoenaed by Darrell Issa and computer forensics experts were fairly certain they could recover the data from the drive. But the drive no longer exists and it appears the IRS never made an effort to recover anything IRS-related from the drive.
Lerner, however, seemed greatly concerned about the recovery of certain items unrelated to the public records she was supposed to be maintaining. Here's a screenshot of an email discussing the crash, posted by John Hinderaker at Power Line.
If you can't see this screenshot, it says the following:
It was nice to meet you this morning -- although I would have preferred it was under different circumstances. I'm taking you up on your offer to try and recapture my lost personal files. My computer skills are pretty basic, so nothing fancy -- but there were some documents in the files that are irreplaceable. Whatever you can do to help, is greatly appreciated…As Hinderaker points out, Lerner seems dismayed to have lost some personal files, but is completely unconcerned that years of emails may have been destroyed as well.
It is remarkable that Lerner does not say: "Oh no! My hard drive crashed, and the IRS's only copy of two years' worth of my highly important work has been lost!" No: she is concerned about "my lost personal files," because "there were some documents in the files that are irreplaceable." That is a clearly stated and entirely reasonable concern, but it has nothing to do with losing the agency's only record of two years of work.As more details come out, the IRS is looking worse and worse. But these additional details are pushing the perception more into the "expected bureaucratic incompetence" area, rather than towards "large-scale conspiracy to destroy evidence."
Still, the agency's long-standing practice of taping over previous backups and pitifully small amounts of email storage doesn't exactly evoke confidence in the IRS's ability to maintain public records. That whatever effort was actually made to recover data from Lerner's crashed computer seems to have revolved around "personal" files makes this situation even worse. The IRS requires hard copy backups of any email that could conceivably be part of the "public record," but it appears that no one involved followed that rule. The rash of coincidental crashes only adds to the negative perception.
The IRS -- and the government -- demands so much from its citizens with pages and pages of federal regulations but it can't even be bothered to follow the few rules it sets for itself. Pathetic.