Anyone else out there a fan of the Netflix show “Tidying Up?” The Marie Kondo decluttering craze, has us thinking about the piles of paperwork you may have accumulated over the years. With tax time in the rearview mirror, what better time to take a look at those jammed up file cabinets and desk drawers? It is always suggested to carefully shred documents containing any critically sensitive information.
The idea is to shred what you don’t need anymore, yet keep what you might need for taxes and accounting purposes. Here are some items that accumulate the most with a note as to how long to keep them:
Monthly Utility Statements – can be disposed of after three months unless the expenses are being written off for tax purposes, then you may want to maintain those until after tax time.
Pay Stubs – having the most recent pay stub handy is suggested, with no need to keep older stubs since the most recent stub should contain all YTD details. Should you be applying for a loan or mortgage, then having as much as one year’s stubs available is helpful.
Credit Card Receipts & Statements – can be tossed when the credit card statement is received and reviewed. If using a credit card for business purposes, then keeping receipts for seven years is the recommended time period. Statements on the other hand should be kept for three months should there be a dispute or chargeback of an expense.
Canceled Checks – can be shredded once the bank statement arrives. Credit card receipts and business related expenses should be kept for seven years.
Bank Statements – are possibly the most important items to keep for an extended period. Like pay stubs, if a loan or mortgage application is in process, six to twelve months of statements is what most lenders are asking for nowadays.
Insurance – always replace outdated policies and coverage verifications with the most recent and keep in an accessible place should a claim need to be filed.
Medical Statements, Bills & Insurance Notices – should be kept for at least five years especially if these items are used as tax deductions and even lingering insurance payment claims. With the onslaught of recent health care initiatives, it is wise to track and file all medical related items as detailed as possible.
Tax Returns & Supporting Items – should be kept at least seven years. Supporting documents include receipts, mileage logs, spreadsheets, paid invoices and canceled checks.
We hope you’ll “find joy” in cleaning out those files and getting rid of the excess clutter!
Source: Tax Policy Center; IRS