Paper Retention Guidelines



* What Personal Documents Should You Keep and for How Long?


1. Keep until warranty expires or can no longer return or exchange

  • Sales Receipts (Unless needed for tax purposes and then keep for 3 years)


2. What to keep for 1 month

  • ATM Printouts (When you balance your checkbook each month throw out the ATM receipts)

3. What to keep for 1 year

  • Paycheck Stubs (You can get rid of once you have compared to your W2 & annual social security statement)

  • Utility Bills (You can throw out after one year, unless you're using these as a deduction like a home office --then you need to keep them for 3 years after you've filed that tax return)

  • Cancelled Checks (Unless needed for tax purposes and then you need to keep for 3 years)

  • Credit Card Receipts (Unless needed for tax purposes and then you need to keep for 3 years)

  • Bank Statements (Unless needed for tax purposes and then you need to keep for 3 years)

  • Quarterly Investment Statements (Hold on to until you get your annual statement)

4. What to keep for 3 years

  • Income Tax Returns (Please keep in mind that you can be audited by the IRS for no reason up to three years after you filed a tax return. If you omit 25% of your gross income that goes up to 6 years and if you don't file a tax return at all, there is no statute of limitations.)

  • Medical Bills and Cancelled Insurance Policies

  • Records of Selling a House (Documentation for Capital Gains Tax)

  • Records of Selling a Stock (Documentation for Capital Gains Tax)

  • Receipts, Cancelled Checks and other Documents that Support Income or a Deduction on your Tax Return (Keep 3 years from the date the return was filed or 2 years from the date the tax was paid -- which ever is later)

  • Annual Investment Statement (Hold onto 3 years after you sell your investment.)

5. What to keep for 7 years

  • Records of Satisfied Loans

6. What to hold while active:

  • Contracts

  • Insurance Documents

  • Stock Certificates

  • Property Records

  • Stock Records

  • Records of Pensions and Retirement Plans

  • Property Tax Records Disputed Bills (Keep the bill until the dispute is resolved)

  • Home Improvement Records (Hold for at least 3 years after the due date for the tax return that includes the income or loss on the asset when it's sold)

7. Keep Forever

  • Birth Certificates

  • Marriage Licenses

  • Wills

  • Adoption Papers

  • Death Certificates

  • Records of Paid Mortgages

8. If paper piles are overtaking your office check out these filing tips.

*Guideline suggested by financial advisor Susan Orman


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Kim Miller

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