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How long should I keep my tax records?


Now that tax season is over, you're probably wondering what to do with all of your tax documents. Can you get rid of some of the old returns?

To be on the safe side, the answer is no. For your own protection-not to satisfy any possible Internal Revenue Service (IRS) liability-you should keep copies of all your tax returns and W-2s for life. Social Security and Medicare wages and taxes paid are reported to the Social Security Administration from IRS, but you don't see any evidence of this until you start receiving retirement Social Security benefit statements. While IRS has begun mailing these documents out annually, it may be too late to correct any discrepancies without proof of your lifelong earnings-through tax returns and either W-2s or check stubs.

Another reason to retain records is the statute of limitations for IRS audit, generally three years from the date returns are filed. Two exceptions exist, however. If you underreport your income by more than 25 percent, IRS officials can go back six years, while if you file a fraudulent return with the intent to evade tax, there is no time limit. Additionally, some states have longer statutes. With California, for example, returns are subject to audit up to four years after filing.

Therefore, it is a good idea to keep all backup documentation, including receipts and logs. The best way to track mileage is via a log, which can be easily kept on your daily calendar and referred to at year-end.

For most audits, the first things IRS representatives ask for are statements from checking, savings, and investment accounts. All deposits are balanced with the income reported on your tax return. If the deposits reflect a greater amount, it's up to you to explain the difference. Be sure to keep a record of all unusual, untaxable deposits so you won't be asked to pay tax on them later.

Traveling seasonally-be it by "following the sun" or letting holidays and calendar events be your guides-can get you where you want to be, when you want to be there.

Mrs. Smith arrives in the emergency room from a motor vehicle accident. She is known to have a long-standing history of hypertension and non-insulin dependent Type II diabetes, but she appears to have only minor injuries-cuts, scrapes, and contusions. The elderly woman admits to being increasingly tired, without her usual appetite. Mrs. Smith also reports occasional morning nausea and nighttime itching. She attributes these symptoms to a bout of flu one month ago. Initial basic chemistry and blood count panels are remarkable for BUN (85 mg/dl), creatinine (6.5 mg/dl), hematocrit (24 percent), and hemoglobin (6)-far from laboratory values considered normal for women (10-20 mg/dl, .2-1.5 mg/dl, 40 to 45 percent, and 13-15, respectively).

When I was completing my preceptorship on an orthopedics/neurological floor in Tallahassee, Florida, I had the good fortune of meeting an extraordinary clinician who would become influential in my decision to travel. I had not been aware of this career choice, let alone considered it.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) Council recently lent its support to the effort of instituting an additional career choice for radiologic technologists (RTs)-that of a radiologist assistant (RA). An advanced-level RT, the RA is directed by a radiologist to perform particular examinations and help with procedures, enabling his or her supervisor to concentrate on other important responsibilities.

Find convenient traveler-friendly spots tucked along America's roadways in Rest Areas & Welcome Centers; revisit American history with a weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia; or sail away on the Chesapeake Bay. Clinicians with back problems, take note: Le Pump, an inflatable travel pillow may just be the ticket to painless travel.


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