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Should It Stay or Go?
Packrats and tossers can finally agree on what records to keep and what to discard.
Use the chart below to help you decide what to keep and for how long. To help prevent
theft, be sure to shred any unwanted documents that contain personal information,
such as your name, address, and account numbers.
Credit and debit card receipts - 45 days
Keep receipts until your monthly statement arrives, and toss them if everything
matches. Exception: Keep receipts if you are disputing a bill or to cover the length
of a warranty or return period.
Paycheck stubs - 1 year
Match the information on your stubs to your annual W-2 tax statement. If they agree,
toss all but your last stub; save this one to verify that carried-over benefits
appear on your first stub in the new year.
Retirement plan statement - 1 year
Keep quarterly statements to check against your annual summary. If everything is
correct, discard the quarterly statements.
Check carbons and statements - 1 year
Go through your check carbons and statements annually, and only keep those related
to taxes, business expenses, and housing payments.
Household records - 6 years
Save purchase price information and the cost of permanent improvements to your property,
such as remodeling. If you buy or sell property, keep records of legal fees and
your real estate agent's commission for 6 years after you sell your home. Keeping
these records could help lower any capital gains tax should you decide to sell.
Tax records - 6 years
Save statements or records that contain tax-related information for 7 years. If
you file a fraudulent return or didn't file one at all, the IRS can catch you at
Receipts for major purchases - permanently
Keep receipts for major purchases (e.g., furniture, computers) to prove their value
in the event of loss or damage.
IRA contributions - permanently
Keep nondeductible contribution records in case you need to prove you paid tax on
the money when you want to withdraw it.
When records contain tax-related information, save them for 7 years.