Do you know what individual income tax records are safe to toss? You need to hold on to your 2016 records for now, but it’s a great time to see what records for previous tax years you can purge. At minimum, keep records for as long as the IRS can audit your return or assess additional taxes, generally three years after filing. So you may be able to shred and toss (or electronically purge) most records related to returns for 2013 and earlier. But hang on to certain records longer, such as tax returns themselves, W-2 forms and real estate or investment records.