How Long Should I Keep Those Documents?

shredder-779850_960_720This blog post discussing how long to keep documents was originally published by Jennifer back in 2010 but the information contained within is useful, especially at this time of year. It’s time once again to review how long to keep these documents we’re hanging onto. Do we really need to keep them forever? There actually may be quite few papers you’re currently storing that you can dispose after you finish your taxes.

Ahhhh…the end of tax time. Now that you’ve filed another year’s return, it’s time to sort through that stack of old paperwork and shred what you can. Here are some quick tips on what you should keep and for how long…

Tax Returns: 7 years. This includes but is not limited to W-2 and 1099 forms, mortgage interest statements, property tax records, brokerage statements, and canceled checks or receipts for all deductions.

Home or Condo Sales: 6 years. Keep your HUD statement and other records documenting the sale.

Paycheck Stubs: 1 Year until you receive your annual W-2 from your employer. After confirming that the information on the stubs matches the W-2, shred the stubs. (If it doesn’t match, alert your employer immediately and get a corrected W-2, known as a W-2c).

IRA Contributions: Indefinitely. Make sure you keep the records if you make a nondeductible contribution to an IRA. When the time comes to withdraw funds, you will have proof that you’ve already paid taxes on this money.

Retirement/Savings/Investment Statements: Until you retire or close the account. Keep monthly or quarterly statements until you receive the annual summary, confirm that the statement amounts match up, then shred the monthlies or quarterlies.

Consumer Reports recently published a similar article that includes information on a broader range of documents, sorted by how many years to keep them. Click here to read more. The article also includes helpful tips on where to store your most important papers for maximum security.

Also it’s worth noting that the recommended disposal of documents in this age of ID theft is secure shredding. We’ll be hosting our annual Recycle and Shred Event Saturday June 11th, 10am to 2pm. We’ll have a shred truck right on site that will shred your documents as you watch. Please keep this in mind as you go through your papers after tax time. You can box up all those documents now and dispose of them safely, for free, at our recycle event in June.

Photo Credit: Hans Braxmeier, Pixabay

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