How long should an appraiser maintain a file and workpapers? The answer is “it depends.”


How long should an appraiser maintain a file and workpapers?  The answer is “it depends.”  With respect to gift tax appraisals, the appraiser should maintain this file and associated workpapers arguably until the owner of the subject interest dies and his or her estate tax return is accepted with no changes by the IRS.  Why?  This is because gifts can be revalued for estate tax purposes, even after the gift tax statute of limitations has tolled.  For estate tax and income tax purposes, we believe that the minimum time that appraisals that were filed with the tax return and associated workpapers should be retained for at least six years after the return was filed, which is the statute of limitations period for the IRS to raise fraud.  With respect to appraisals that are prepared in connection with an audit or with litigation, the file should be retained until a judgment becomes final and nonappealable or is settled.  For other appraisals, there really is no specific recommended period of time, but the applicable valuation standards should be treated as the minimum amount of time that a file should be retained.  The answer to the original question posed is that business appraisers should spend more time evaluating how much time a file and workpapers for a particular appraisal should be retained and do it on an appraisal by appraisal basis.  Slavish following of a “one size fits all” document retention policy probably should be avoided.

About lpaulhoodjr

I am an inactive lawyer who practiced almost 20 years as a tax and estate planning lawyer. Today, I am the Director of Planned Giving for The University of Toledo Foundation. I am the co-author of four books, the sole author of another book and a frequent speaker and writer on estate planning, planned giving and business valuation.
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