Sorting out your paper mountain – which documents should you keep?
For many who haven’t opted to go paperless, receipts, bills, pay stubs, tax forms, and other financial documents flood into the mailbox every month. For those who like receiving paper documents monthly, be aware of which financial documents you should keep and which ones you can throw away (recycle).
For your guide on what you should file away safely and what to slide into the shredder, read below!
- Receipts – For anything you might itemize on your tax return, keep for three years with your tax records.
- Home improvement records – Keep ahold of these for at least three years after the due date of the tax return that includes the income or loss on the home when it’s sold. When aiming to sell the house that you have made improvements to, aim to keep receipts for seven years as these may lower the taxable gain when it’s sold.
- Medical bills – Keep for up to one year. Your insurance company may request proof of a doctor visit or other medical claims.
- Paycheck stubs – Hold these until the end of the year and discard after comparing to your W-2 and annual Social Security statement.
- Utility bills – 1 year then discard! Unless you’re claiming a home office tax deduction, then keep them for three years.
- Credit card statements – Keep until you’ve confirmed the charges and have proof of payment.
- Bank statements – If you’re audited by the IRS, you’ll need to keep these for up to three years.
- Loans that have been paid off – Keep these records for seven years.
- Active insurance documents – Keep these while they are active. All expired contracts can be discarded.
- Marriage license, birth certificates, wills, death certificates, and records of paid mortgages – Keep forever!
If you’re bombarded with endless envelopes every month, opt to go paperless! Many documents are available online so you save time and trees all in one!